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Pulsing with life

click to enlarge no-8-1952.jpg

“What do you see?” asks abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko (Geordie Johnson) as he and his brand new assistant Ken (Noah Reid) stare into the audience which stands in, momentarily, for one of Rothko’s Seagram paintings. Rothko is digging for—no, demanding—a very specific answer, and Ken tries valiantly to please. But even in this early scene, Reid’s portrayal of Ken subtly reveals that he is a complex, intelligent character who will not be cowed by an old master’s genius and difficult nature. What ensues is 90 minutes of rumination and rebuttal on art, ambition, life and death. Johnson is outstanding as Rothko, offering flashes of humanity beneath his prickly brilliance, and Reid is a joy to watch as his face becomes a canvas for the emotions he restrains. Just as Rothko aimed to achieve in his paintings, this production positively pulsates with life.

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