Red (play)

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Red (play cover).jpg
Written by John Logan
Characters Mark Rothko
Date premiered December 3, 2009 (2009-12-03)
Place premiered Donmar Warehouse, London
Original language English
Genre Drama
Setting Bowery, New York

Red is a play by American writer John Logan about artist Mark Rothko first produced by the Donmar Warehouse, London on December 8, 2009. The original production was directed by Michael Grandage and performed by Alfred Molina as Rothko and Eddie Redmayne as his fictional[1] assistant Ken.[2][3]

The production, with its two leads, transferred to Broadway at the John Golden Theater for a limited engagement which began on March 11, 2010 and closed on June 27.[4] It was the 2010 Tony Award winner for Best Play. Additionally, Redmayne won a 2010 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play.[5]


"There is only one thing I fear in life, my friend... One day the black will swallow the red."[3]

Mark Rothko is in his New York studio in 1958-9, having been commissioned to paint a group of murals for the expensive and exclusive Four Seasons restaurant. He gives orders to his assistant, Ken, as he mixes the paints, makes the frames, and paints the canvases. Ken, however, brashly questions Rothko's theories of art and his acceding to work on such a commercial project. For his part, Rothko dislikes the rise of Pop art.

Ultimately, Rothko stops working on the project and decides to return the money. He explains to Ken that the Four Seasons is an inappropriate place for his murals to be seen.


Reviews for the London production were mixed for the play but positive for Molina's performance. Michael Billington in The Guardian wrote: "Alfred Molina, with his large frame and beetling eyebrows, has exactly the fierce intensity of an artist whose paintings were a dynamic battle between Apollo and Dionysus, ."[6]

In reviewing the Broadway production, Michael Kuchwara of the Associated Press wrote: "They are the tantalizing first words of Red, John Logan's engrossing, often enthralling new play about art, an artist and the act of creation." Those first words were "What do you see?" Variety wrote that "Alfred Molina is majestic".[7]

Awards and nominations[edit]

The play won the 2010 Drama League Award for Distinguished Production of a Play and Molina won the Distinguished Performance Award.[8]

The play was nominated for a total of seven Tony Awards, winning six, including: Best Play, Best Featured Actor in a Play for Eddie Redmayne, Best Direction of a Play for Michael Grandage, Best Scenic Design of a Play for Christopher Oram, Best Lighting Design of a Play for Neil Austin, and Best Sound Design of a Play for Adam Cork.[5] In addition, Alfred Molina was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for his role as Mark Rothko. All in all, it received the most wins out of any other production that season. The play also won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play while Grandage and Austin were honoured with Drama Desk Awards for their work. Molina, Cork and Oram were also similarly nominated.[9]

Other productions[edit]

In October 2013 Rojo premiered in Chile at Centro Mori Bellavista theatre, starring Luis Gnecco and Martin Bacigalupo, directed by Rodrigo Sepúlveda and produced by The Cow Company.

Geva Theatre Center in Rochester, NY mounted an acclaimed production of Red from October 20 - November 15, 2015 starring Stephen Caffrey as Mark Rothko and John Ford-Dunker as Ken. Directed by Skip Greer, the production featured scenic design by Robert Koharchik, costume design by Ann M. Emo, lighting design by Kendall Smith and sound design by Dan Roach.

Red also played in New National Theater - The PIT, Tokyo Japan started from August 21 - October 4, 2015, starring Tanaka Tetsushi Tanaka as Rothko and Oguri Shun Oguri as Ken, directed by Eriko Ogawa.

In October, 2016 the play opened at The Junction in Dubai before transferring to the JamJar. The production starred Osman Aboubakr as Rothko and Deepak Venugopal as Ken, with direction by Alex Broun.

July 2017 - August 2017 the play was mounted at The Cape Playhouse in Dennis, MA. Stephen Caffrey starred as Mark Rothko and Patrick Stafford as Ken, with direction by David Glenn Armstrong.

The play will be revived from May - July 2018 at the Wyndhams Theatre directed by Michael Grandage with Alfred Enoch and Alfred Molina reprising his original role.



  1. ^ Mohr, Betty. "'Red' is a larger-than-life portrait of Rothko" Chicago Sun Times. October 19, 2011
  2. ^ Shenton, Mark."Alfred Molina Stars in Donmar Warehouse Premiere of Logan's Red, Opening Dec. 8", December 8, 2009
  3. ^ a b "'Red' listing", retrieved May 25, 2010
  4. ^ Hetrick, Adam and Jones, Kenneth."Red, with Alfred Molina and Eddie Redmayne, Splashes Onto Broadway", April 1, 2010
  5. ^ a b "Who's Nominated?". Tony Awards. IBM Corp. Retrieved 13 June 2010. 
  6. ^ Probst, Andy."Review Roundup: Red, with Alfred Molina, at Donmar Warehouse", Dec 10, 2009
  7. ^ "'Red' reviews", retrieved May 22, 2010
  8. ^ Gans, Andrew."Sondheim, Red, Bridge, La Cage and Molina Win Drama League Awards", May 21, 2010
  9. ^ Gans, Andrew."Red, Memphis, Bridge, Fences and La Cage Win Drama Desk Awards", May 23, 2010
  10. ^ Nobuko Tanaka, "Shun Oguri faces off with an artistic master in ‘Red’", The Japan Times, August 20, 2015. Retrieved January 09, 2016.

External links[edit]