Shows: Colin Friel paints Bris­bane Red.........................

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - CONTENTS -

Red.

COLIN Friels stars as Mark Rothko, one of the most in­flu­en­tial and best-known artists of the 20th cen­tury, in the Queens­land Theatre Com­pany’s ster­ling pro­duc­tion of Red.

Friels, who does a bit of on­stage daub­ing, is repris­ing a role he pre­vi­ously per­formed for the Melbourne Theatre Com­pany’s stag­ing of John Lo­gan’s Tony Award-win­ning work.

A two-han­der that deals with a piv­otal part of the New York artist’s life, Red re­cently earned Friels the Best Male Ac­tor (Theatre) gong at Melbourne’s Green Room Awards.

Set in the late 1950s, the play fol­lows Rothko as he works on a se­ries of mu­rals for Four Sea­sons restau­rant in New York’s Sea­gram Build­ing. Ul­ti­mately, af­ter a cri­sis of con­science, Rothko kept the paint­ings and re­turned the money he had been ad­vanced.

‘‘I wouldn’t have done the play if the paint­ings had gone to the restau­rant in the end,’’ Friels says.

‘‘Rothko couldn’t have taken the money. It would have ru­ined him.’’

Friels co-stars in Red with Tom Bar­ton as Rothko’s as­sis­tant.

Rothko, who com­mit­ted sui­cide in 1970 at the age of 66, even­tu­ally made it big – posthu­mously – in Amer­ica.

Rothko started out as a fig­u­ra­tive painter but his most fa­mous works are ab­stract blocks of colour which bring some art lovers to tears.

One of his works sold at auc­tion for $US86.9 mil­lion ($A85 mil­lion) last year.

Friels, 60, says he feels sym­pa­thy for Rothko, whom he de­scribes as ‘‘in­cred­i­bly gen­er­ous and self-ef­fac­ing at times but also in­cred­i­bly grumpy’’.

‘‘I would never do a play a sec­ond time around un­less I pas­sion­ately be­lieved in it,’’ Friels says.

‘‘It takes so much of you to do a play and if I’m not com­mit­ted to it, I can’t give it ev­ery ounce of my be­ing.’’

Red plays The Play­house Theatre, at QPAC, in Bris­bane, un­til May 19. Tick­ets start at $33.

Tom Bar­ton and Colin Friels star in the Queens­land Theatre Com­pany’s

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