| By Jade Ali
The West End has a vast amount of plays and musicals to offer you so the question on your mind is surely “what is different about this play?” and “why is this play worth watching?” Well, RED sits on the high shelf of the West End, the tier of award winners and the big names. RED is the small play that pushes its way through and up to the top. The play's world premiere at the Donmar Warehouse (here in the West End) in 2009 as well as its Broadway run in 2010, saw this production go on to win six Tony Awards, and now it’s back.
Reprising his role of self-proclaimed genius and artist Mark Rothko is award winning actor Alfred Molina and thankfully so because this is an actor that demands attention effortlessly, leaving the audience hanging from his every word. The character of expressionist Rothko is one of self-importance and self-grandeur, and the importance of having a great actor represent the complexity of a man who is made up of rambling dialogues and one-sided conversations is evident here, and Molina does it all whilst keeping the audience enticed.
Playing opposite Molina is Alfred Enoch best known for his role in series How To Get Away With Murder and of course his role as Dean Thomas in the Harry Potter series, which is instantly forgotten as he takes to stage. It’s admirable to watch a young actor stand side by side with a more experienced actor and be able to stand his ground. Enoch doesn’t hide in the shadows of his co-star but instead learns from him, demanding attention from the audience, much like Enoch’s character Ken learns to do from Rothko.
The play is simple but only so it doesn’t distract from the complexity. There isn’t anything flashy, there isn’t a huge cast, there aren’t any big dramatics. There are, however, two brilliant actors, two complex characters and the dialogue between them over the time frame of two years. Art is everything else in between and this draws attention to the art and the depth of these characters. You will find yourself completely hypnotised, drawn to these characters, individually as well as to the relationship between them.
This production explores the art world, from its big successes and the effect that has on an artist contrasted with an artist fresh from art school. It explores all the darkness and tragedy that is cliché put upon artists who achieve greatness. So, Red isn’t the showiest show but some of the greatest productions steer away from the flashiness of glitz and glamour and what it gives you instead is raw and real and completely human and that is what makes this play so great.
Red is playing at Wyndham's Theatre until July 28, 2018. You can book Red tickets here.