Edmonton Fringe Festival, The Beer Tent Reviews- RED


Review by Danielle LaRose

What does the colour RED mean to you? For artist Mark Rothko it’s not a simple question of pigment. Perhaps the red took root as young Markus Rothkowitz was growing up in the Russian Empire, perhaps it settled in his mind while reading Nietzsche as a young painter of the abstract-impressionist movement. However it entered into his system, red is to Rothko as blood is to life, but the black is looming, ominous, opening up like a gaping mouth before the primal scream. John Logan’s multiple Tony Award-Winning play is a masterpiece that delves into the merciless process of creating art, confronting the hypocrisy of marketable ideology on canvas, ruthlessly scraping back the layers of paint and intellectualism and ego and romanticism, unrelenting in his threat that creative relevance is fleeting. “I am here to stop your heart” bellows the master painter at his intuitive yet green apprentice Ken, played by wide-eyed Braden Butler who is quite rightly dwarfed by Michael Peng’s harsh yet enigmatic Rothko. This production is not only gripping in its performances and philosophical scrutiny, but also in the on-stage spectacle as we see the birth of legendary visual art. Leigh Rivenbark’s powerful direction steers this leviathan through choppy ideological waters and the result is an adroit and exhilarating 90 minutes of theatre.

RED plays at Venue 5, Kick Point King Edward Elementary School. Tickets and info at the box office or online.

Read these and other Fringe reviews in The Beer Tent Reviews, printed and distributed on the Fringe grounds and at participating venues. Check out @BeerTentReviews!

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