John Logan’s “Red”

I got to see Red this weekend. The big 2010 Tony winner for Best Play so my expectations were high.

Let’s just say, I didn’t love it. My reaction is sort of in the middle. I’m not sure there really was a captivating story there – there was some fantastic dialogue and exchanges, sure. But, it was a play that maybe could have taken more risks; could have explored the ideas and themes of what art and what an artists’ obligations are in a more authentic way. This felt a bit like Logan was imposing these interesting thoughts and concepts onto two talking heads.

I feel like I’m being harsh, because it was a good play, enjoyable and entertaining – but when I see a play with only two characters for 90 minutes, I want to see them really connect and really get into the meat of it, you know?  These characters connected I guess, but in a very cliché way. Stubborn, famous artist who barely acknowledges that his lowly assistant has a life outside of his job and the tension inherent in that situation.

It felt like it was watered down a little. Maybe I’m just used to seeing such amazing off and off-off Broadway plays, that I expect at least that from Broadway. And I could gripe for a while about the melodramatic, unnecessary swelling cinematic music.

The big question I left the theater thinking about was -if this play wasn’t about Rothko, would it have been as successful? I really don’t think it would have. But since Rothko is so iconic, it provided extra marketing cache.

My favorite part of the whole experience was having a glass of wine at Chez Josephine – which on my two visits there has become my favorite spot in all of this city. It feels like this otherworldly spot, with its weird no mans land location near Port Authority. It’s a place that feels like it’s a last bastion of something. I’m not sure what – but something that was once majestic but is now seedy and desolate.

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One thought on “John Logan’s “Red”

  1. I read your Red critique. I also saw the play on June 12th and had mixed feelings. I have to agree with you on how watered down it was and your question of whether it would have been as popular and nominated if the Rothko name wasn’t attached to it. I felt like it could have been about any (diva/sadist) artist and his masochistic assistant. Neither character grew or evolved during the 2 years that they worked together either…I expected more discussions about his artistic process. We paid $25 for seats waaaay in the back. So I think it was worth $25. I would have expected more for $110 tickets!

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