Randy Hughson (photo credit: Andrée Lanthier)
by Jessica Wei
The first thought I could successfully pull together after coming out of seeing RED by John Logan at the Segal Centre: I want a fucking cigarette.
And it's impeccable. Logan's script succeeds in its two primary functions of helping the audience understand the thought process behind these bright squares on canvas and sending us out those clearly marked exits feeling like philosophers (as Rothko says, “Painting is 10% putting paint on the canvas – the rest is waiting and thinking.”). We walk out murmuring, “Oh that's interesting”, we debate the luxury of art, we realize that money is not the villain and nor is the pursuit of it, and we muse, understanding, at least theoretically, the sacrifice of compromised integrity, feeling as if we could have been on that stage and in that studio pacing around with arms dripping with paint and a red-stained cigarette dangling from our lips, ranting and raving. This reaction, for the playwright and also everyone else backstage, is the endgame.
Randy Hughson, as Rothko, is magnetic.
The stage that feels so homey and inviting, designed by Eo Sharp, is a meticulous recreation of the ideal studio, complete with well-placed mirrors, giant canvases, immersive large-scale reproductions of Rothko's work, and couches that welcome paint splatters. Pair that with Keith Thomas' music and Robert Thomson's lighting design (wheeled studio spotlights in accordance to Rothko's distaste for natural light), and it's so intimate, we forget that we're sitting in the dark in the Segal Centre in a packed theatre. And so, the prosaic, manic ranting of the artist continues.
Red continues at the Segal Centre to December 16