The more cynical reader/theatre lover might imagine this play/production having been designed for a Broadway transfer from the outset.
A two-handed, short play about the artist Mark Rothko, with an all (both) star cast and Michael Grandage directing.
Indeed, had it not been for the fact that the subject matter interests us both and that the stars in question (Alfred Molina and Eddie Redmayne) are both stars we like, we might have given this one a miss. We were falling out of love with the Donmar Warehouse by then.
But this was a very interesting play and it was superbly done, so we are very glad we went to see it at the very start of its transatlantic journey.
No on-line resource from the Donmar – they are far too busy arranging West End and Broadway transfers for that.
It got mostly very good reviews, but not universally so:
- Michael Billington in the Guardian wrote very highly of the play/production, also wanting to rush out and see some more Rothko afterwards;
- Ian Shuttleworth in the FT didn’t like the play, finding it wordy and uninformative;
- Paul Taylor in the Independent really liked this piece;
- Charles Spencer in the Telegraph praised the performances but panned the script;
- James Woodall at theartsdesk.com speaks very eloquently about and highly of it all.
It did well on transatlantic transfer too – here is Ben Brantley from the New York Times the following spring.
But back to London during chilly December 2009, Janie and I were really taken with the preview we saw, which is the bit that really matters. It has also made us look at Rothko works slightly differently since. We’re still not sure about their meditative qualities though.
Finally, here is an extracts package from Playbill from the Los Angeles transfer – sadly without Eddie Redmayne by then, but still you get to see Alfred Molina as Rothko: