October 27, 2014

Red

 
When it comes to art, every person who views it can see something different. Even a simple color can mean a variety of things, stirring memories or emotions that bring on diverse reactions. The Indiana Repertory Theatre’s “Red” is a two-man play that explores the topic of art in all of its forms.  
 
Abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko hires a young man to help in his studio in the 1950s. The two very different men give us two distinct viewpoints of the world of art. We see things through the eyes of the seasoned artist who has already found success. Then we see the point of view of his assistant, who shows joy and enthusiasm for everything around him. The old and the new come to a head as Rothko pushes the novice harder and harder, and the conflict leaves them both raw.
 
 
The performers themselves bring such power to the show with their portrayal of the two men both tortured in their own ways. Henry Woronicz plays the cantankerous Mark Rothko with a delicate balance of gruffness and vulnerability. Rothko is condescending and harsh to his young employee, but he’s just as critical of himself. He’s constantly battling his own doubts and demons. Ken’s (Zach Kenney) eagerness becomes frustration as Rothko challenges his beliefs at every turn.
 
The production uses every available element to tell the story. The lighting plays a crucial role, the music heightens every scene and the dialogue whips back and forth in a frenzy. Each component adds a layer to create the fabric of the show. James Still directs the production, lending a gentle hand to the intense material.
 

Red is a meditation on art. Not just paintings, and visual arts, but music literature and performance art. It's an exploration of art’s purpose. Should it challenge us or is it for pleasure alone? Who decides whether a piece is successful: the critics, the audience, or the artists themselves? Do audiences need to understand the artists’ motive and emotions when creating the work in order to “get” it? The show’s goal is not to answer these questions, but instead to begin the conversation, a goal which it achieves beautifully.
 
Don't Miss the Show

The Indiana Repertory Theatre is located at 140 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, one-half block west of the Circle Center Mall between northbound Illinois St. and southbound Capitol Ave. "Red" runs until November 9 on IRT's Upperstage. Times for performances can be found at
www.irtlive.com or by calling the IRT box office at (317) 635-5252. To purchase tickets call (317) 635-5252 or order online at www.irtlive.com

*Photos courtesy of Zach Rosing

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