Although I was seated for 90 minutes, I enjoyed a most energetic evening when I saw "Red" on its preview night. The performances of Tim Daly as Mark Rothko and Charles Socarides as his young assistant Ken were riveting. The dynamics between the artist and his work, the artist and the young man, the young man and his past made the set pulsate (the word popped up often). The lines were sophisticated, yet were delivered as if the actors were born with them already in their mouths. One stand-out scene had both men in a finely choreographed ballet as they maniacally underpainted a giant canvas with red ground. Then they split apart like balls of quicksilver, Rothko bullying, Ken challenging.
Although the play takes place in a single room, Rothko's studio, over a period of two years, we see Ken became more sure-footed, and his knowledge and wisdom mature - beyond the older man's level of self-awareness. Rothko's irascible egotism and obsession to assert himself as one of modern art's greatest gifts was not a one-dimensional display by Tim Daly, by any means! Daly embodied a complex, solipsistic creative force who zinged between being over-fond of his creations (his children) while at the same time helping us to understand why he loved them so --and being cruel to young Ken, who rose above the dismissive rudeness, rose up from mopping up Rothko's bloody paint from the floors and walked away cleansed by his trial by fire.
The entire crew and the director, as well as the actors, deserve ovations.
Why aren't more people raving about "Red"? Because more people need to see it!