Manila, Philippines, February 28, 2013 -- American playwright and screenwriter John Logan's ("Any Given Sunday," "Aviator") Tony Award-winning play "Red," which won six awards at the 2010 Tony Awards, including Best Play, enters its last weekend at College of Saint Benilde-School of Design and Arts Theatre on Friday, March 1 and Saturday, March 2.
"Red," produced by Actor's Actors Inc.'s The Necessary Theatre, stars veteran stage actor and director Bart Guingona ("Next Fall," "Hedda Gabler") and filmmaker and thespian Joaquin Pedro Valdes ("Dagim," "Into the Woods")
The play is a bio-drama about Mark Rothko (1903-1970), an American abstract painter of Jewish descent.
Below are excerpts from reviews:
Wanggo Gallaga, Juice.ph: "Red" is a relatively quiet play. It involves only two characters discussing art and while they do play music while working and later, as tensions rise, they start to raise their voices to shout at each other, it can't ever get too loud or busy on set because, well, there's just two people on stage at any given time, in a quiet studio of one artist. But "Red" gets very loud, on an intellectual level, because the text is so damned brilliant that it bellows and howls inside your head. It's loud in a different sense. It's an amazing experience.
Written by John Logan, "Red" is a fictional account of the events that might have transpired and led to the famous painter, Mark Rothko, to withdraw his commissioned work of a series of murals for the Four Seasons restaurant in the Seagram Building in New York and return the huge amount of money that they had paid him. This actual event is considered "one of the most enigmatic gestures of 20th century art," as written on the synopsis, and the play delves into what may have been in Mark Rothko's head that led him to do what he did. Creating a fictitious newly hired assistant, the play allows Rothko to have a dialogue with someone to articulate what might have been swimming in his head at the time.
It might sound boring on paper, except Mark Rothko was a cerebral artist. He was intelligent and the play presents him as eloquent and articulate and quite ruthless, mercilessly testing the aesthetics and the values of his young assistant. What happens is a dizzying, enlightening discourse on modern art -- what people see when they look at art; why people make art; what people think of art, as a whole; why art is important; and what happens when an artwork is set free to the public.
Katrina Stuart Santiago, GmaNetwork.com: To say that Guingona is brilliant in the role of Rothko is an understatement, and that is really a failure at finding the right words for this portrayal. Last year, in "Next Fall" I had wondered why I wasn't seeing more of Guingona in theater. Kicking off the year with "Red" made it worth the wait.
"Red" resonates in the context of third world Philippines with with its travesties of art and culture, creativity and artmaking.
And no, this is not about Guingona's mere existence as actor, layering the words here with new meaning - that isn't flattering at all, really. Instead the gift of Guingona is that you completely forget it is him, at the same time that he need not necessarily be Rothko, as he could just be the every-artist. The stance is both confident and tired, the tone is excited and frustrated, there is nary a kindness in his voice, as there is an undercurrent of pain.
A worthy other to Guingona, is Valdes as Ken - he's really the surprise here. The innocence and positivity are easy, maybe the naïve young artist, too; but Valdes evolves as subtly as this character needed to here, becoming less awed and more opinionated, carrying more weight with each step, from one scene to the next. Where he moved from wanting to please Rothko to knowing him well enough to refuse being carried away by his drama; where in the beginning he had few words and later knew to point a finger at - and scream about - Rothko's limitations.
Vladimir Bunoan, Abs-CbnNews.com: The text, while peppered with numerous intellectual references from Nietzsche, Freud and Shakespeare to Pollock, Lichtenstein and Warhol, doesn't come across as academic. You don't need a Master's degree to get it.