Red

The NNT Spring season hots up with an impressive production of John Logan’s Red.


Red is ostensibly an intellectual version of The Devil Wears Prada– an assistant responds to the beck and call of their boss for the sake of subjective art-form. However, Red is an extremely good high calibre example of what the Nottingham New Theatre is capable of. Step aside Hathaway.

The two hours of the performance (despite being almost double that of the advertised billing time…) exhibited some exceptional moments of committed acting and superb production value.

Ajay Stevenson, in his role as legendary New York art icon Mark Rothko was simply superb. Naturally the audience has to accept the concession that this is student theatre, however Stevenson carried of the role of a man in his fifties with exquisite poise. Most impressive was his commitment to the role for such considerable time, never skipping a beat even between scenes or momentary exits of the stage.

His theatrical equal, Jono Lake in the role of Rothko’s assistant Ken put in an incredibly endearing performance. The progression of his character throughout the two year span of the play was impressively coherent. His character often fulfils that of the audience, struggling to comprehend Rothko’s in-depth artistic thesis.

The play has some superb moments of theatricality. The naturalism of the set is convincingly a New York studio, except for minor lapses in the illusion with stray inconsistencies in the barcodes on the whisky bottle and the timber frame. This, of course, is extreme pedantry.

Other criticisms might include some questionable canvas tautening techniques and the plays disappointing tendency to portray anger and tension through shouting rather than nuance.

However one particular moment of genius was the priming of one of Rothko’s legendary canvases. Accompanied by a classical record, within 20 seconds, Stevenson and Lake impressively cover a 6’x6’ canvas in red paint (that’s 36 sq. ft.).

Praise for the vision most go to directors Tom Tolond and Lara Tysseling, for a superb set, incredible characterisation and a compelling and involving 2 hours of entertainment.

Most impressive is that this performance was only the first night, and frighteningly perhaps, things can only get better. A resounding success.