Canadian Stage’s “Red” – Deep, Dark & Brilliant

Rating: ★★★★ (out of 4)

Red. Sounds…simple, right? You’d be wrong. Very wrong.

The Canadian Stage, in co-production with Vancouver Playhouse and Citadel Theatre, brings to Toronto a theatre experience like none other. Written by academy-award nominated screenwriter and playwright John Logan (Gladiator) and directed by Siminovitch Prize winner Kim Collier, Red tells the story of abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko (Jim Mezon) and his ambitious young assistant Ken (David Coomber) & introduces audiences to the journey Rothko takes to create a masterpiece away from the world of commercialism.

The production is set in the 1950’s and is based on a fictionalized account of one of Rothko’s very significant art deals: creating a collection of murals to be displayed in the Seagram Building in New York City, within the new Four Seasons restaurant. The play highlights his journey towards creating the perfect set of pieces for the restaurant. Throughout though he is conflicted by his commitments, thinking deep into the meaning of art, the philosophy of life & relevance of all things.

This production provides a riveting theatre experience unlike any other. From the very beginning, you are hooked to this curious character that is Mark Rothko. Portrayed by the absolutely brilliant Jim Mezon, you are compelled to find out who Rothko is, what his artistic beliefs are and what he thinks of life. Mezon’s performance deserves a standing ovation every time he finishes talking. From the conversations, to the hand gestures, to simply just standing still, Mezon brings to the forefront who Rothko is. This brilliant build of character is further enhanced by Rothko’s assistant Ken portrayed by David Coomber. Coomber, an up-and-coming performer showcases brilliant conversation and powerful interaction that complements Mezon’s portrayal of Rothko. The duo build an atmosphere of sheer curiosity simply hooking the audience for every second of the 90 minutes the play runs for.

Much effort has gone into the production. Rothko’s studio constructed on stage sets the iconic 1950’s tone and the obvious signs of the colour red highlight what this play is all about. There is an even deeper meaning which is best left for those who watch the show. The use of simple props helps enhance significant moments during the play and the simplicity allows the audience to really focus on whats important.

This play will make you think. The play on emotion is done brilliantly. A moment that maybe considered hilarious is actually quite dark. Mezon and Coomber truly highlight who their characters are and mix emotion with action to give the audience a true feel for who they are portraying. You will never feel involved with a play like you will in Red. This is an absolute must-watch for those who haven’t already.

Red plays at the Bluma Appel Theatre until December 17th 2011. Don’t miss this opportunity. Please visit for tickets and show information. For all you students & folks under 30 out there, make sure to check the C-Stage program to get a brilliant discount on tickets.