Matthew Holmes and Robert Krecklow (photo by Eric Younkin)
After seeing RED, which debuted Friday at Theatre Arlington, theater-goers may think twice before describing a color tone.
Blood, ruby, rose, and wine can all depict a shade of the color, which reflects more than simply hue, in the play written by John Logan and directed by Adam Adolfo.
Set in a 1950s-era studio, boozing and chain-smoking master abstract artist Mark Rothko works with his protégé, Ken, while taking an in-depth look into the meaning of the craft.
“I am here to make you think,” Rothko, played by Robert Krecklow, says to Ken, played by Matt Holmes. “I’m not here to make pretty pictures.”
And Rothko does just that even declaring at one point that a mere 10 percent of art is putting brush to canvas. The rest, he says, involves incubating thoughts which takes time.
RED’s debut also spotlighted Krecklow’s outstanding debut performance at the theater. The actor’s portrayal of the moody artist, who came across as half-mad and perhaps half drunk at times, showed a thought provoking yet not-so-pretty side of humanity. At times, Ken served as a sounding board for Rothko’s creative ideologies as well as a target for his temper. Other times, the two painted in beautiful harmony.
After landing the largest commission in the history of modern art, Rothko questions whether New York’s legendary Four Seasons restaurant would be the right place for his series of murals.
“This raw and provocative portrait of an artist’s ambition and vulnerability brings to light the meaning of art, integrity, commerce and audience,” reads the play’s brochure.
Theatre Arlington executive director Valerie Galloway calls RED “a play for smart people.”
Now in its 45th season, Theatre Arlington went outside the norm with the performance, opening up a dialogue about things that most dare not mention and replacing feel good and laughter with a look at the real.
“For if we do not examine both sides of anything, we cannot arrive at the truth,” Galloway says in the theater program.
Performances will be held Thursday through Sunday at Theatre Arlington, 305 W. Main Street, through April 15. For more information, visit theatrearlington.org.