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‘RED’-A War of Words Plus Chuckles
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Thursday, March 16, 2023
 

STORY BY KAREN BOSSICK

PHOTOS BY KIRSTEN SHULTZ

Mark Rothko was a man of fierce opinions. And as “RED” opens in 1958, he is the last of the abstract expressionists following Jackson Pollock’s death. Indeed, he can feel the hot breath of Andy Warhol and other pop artists nipping at his heels.

Into this mix steps Ken, his new assistant. At first, Ken is gobsmacked standing in the shadow of one of America’s towering artists. But in time this assistant comes into his own, growing frustrated at the way Rothko stares at canvasses for days on end to find the painting that he believes belongs on that canvas.

The Liberty Theatre Company has brought John Logan’s play, which won the 2010 Tony Award for Best Play, to the stage of the Sun Valley Community School Theatre. And, if you haven’t seen it, you can catch it at 7 p.m. tonight through Saturday, March 18, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 19.

Joe Lavigne and Owen Parmele have transformed the stage into an impressive painting studio full of large-scale frames and canvases, big broad brushes and more. And Joel Vilinsky, who teaches theater at Sun Valley Community School, does a splendid job as the hard taskmaster who constantly badgers his assistant: “What do you see?”

“I’m not your rabbi…I’m your employer,” he adds in a manner so different from his own easy-going personality.

Vilinsky, as Rothko, stands tall in paint-stained pants and shirts. And soon his assistant, played by David Kepner, learns to wipe the paint on his hands, as well, on his T-shirts even as he gains the confidence to challenge Rothko on whether he’s selling out by creating large-scale murals for New York’s four Seasons Restaurant.

The play, named for a very red abstract painting that the audience gets to watch being created, involves  a fascinating combative Socratic dialogue. While it’ll keep audiences on their toes it will also offers plenty of chuckles.

The play is directed by Claudia McCain.

Tickets are $15 for students and $35 for general admission available at https://www.libertytheatrecompany.org/ or 208-582-8388.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Liberty Theater company plans to announce its 2023-24 season under the artistic direction of Naomi McDougall Jones in May.

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