Cleveland Play House (now at PlayhouseSquare) presents the Tony Award winning Red. The play centers around artist Mark Rothko (Bob Ari) who is struggling to paint a commission for the Four Seasons in New York City. He hires a young assistant named Ken (Randy Harrison) and a dialogue begins that eventually calls into question everything Rothko believes about art.
Red was written by John Logan who was later nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, for Hugo at the 2011 Academy Awards. Red opened in 2009 for London audiences and later moved to New York with the same cast. The New York production won the 2010 Tony Award for Best Play. A largely dialogue based show, Red relies heavily on the prowess of it’s two actors. In the case of the Cleveland Play House production, those actors are brilliant.
Rothko is played by veteran actor Bob Ari (Nixon U/S – Frost/Nixon) and Ken is played by Randy Harrison (Justin – Showtime’s Queer as Folk). Both actors completely nailed their roles without overdoing it Ari spent a great deal of time studying his character and it shows through in his mannerisms and confidence. Harrison played the young, brash Ken with relative ease and didn’t falter in his characters youthful confidence for a second. The staging must be given a massive thumb up as well; it was very effective and transformative.
The night I attended was one of CPH’s “NightOUT!” events and I was impressed that both cast members attended the after-party and graciously shared their time and their stories with anyone who wanted to chat. I enjoyed an especially long chat with Bob Ari and thoroughly enjoyed picking his brain. I was a big fan of Showtime’s Queer as Folk in my youth and meeting Randy Harrison was one of the highlights of the evening for me.
Overall, the show is a little slow moving for those that don’t do well in dialogue driven shows. If you enjoy good thought provoking monologues and would treasure being a fly on the wall during a very private life changing moment in an artist’s life, you will regret skipping Red. This show has a little something for everyone and I highly recommend it. Red plays through April 8th in the beautiful, state of the art Allen Theater in PlayhouseSquare. For tickets, and information head to ClevelandPlayHouse.com.