Crimson Vengeance: “Red” & “Monte-Cristo” in Chicago

The Blood is the Life

I was an amateur actor for a good many years in my youth (wouldn’t mind getting back into it, really), so I’ve developed a great affection for the stage and the great thing about a good play is that it’s nearly as fun to watch one as it is to act in one. While I haven’t had the time or money to see any shows lately, interesting ones nevertheless catch my interest when I glimpse a flyer or billboard advertisement.

This past Friday evening, as I rode Chicago’s famous ‘L train’ to the even more famous Downtown ‘Loop’, I spied a train ad promoting the play “Red” by writer John Logan and director Robert Falls at the Goodman Theatre. Having not heard of the play before, I was initially captivated by the tagline on the ad, which read: “Full-blooded and visceral, the Tony Award-winning Red takes you into the mind of abstract expressionist Mark Rothko, for whom paintings are “pulsating” life forces and art is intended to stop the heart.” It’s a terrifically-crafted little blurb and, aside from making me wonder which talented English major must have penned it, definitely piqued my interest for the play.

Red chronicles the journey of Mark Rothko and his assistant Ken over the course of their two-year mission to paint a number of murals for Manhattan’s famous ‘Four Seasons’ restaurant at the dawn of the 1960s. Despite Rothko’s ideals, he has chosen to create these pieces for commercial gain, much to the chagrin of his idealistic protégé. With money and artistic honor on the line, these two must decide which course their work will take before “the black swallows the red”.

Red is playing at the Goodman Theatre until October 30, 2011.

Cinderblock Man to Renaissance Man

“The Count of Monte-Cristo” is perhaps my favorite book and Alexandre Dumas is undoubtedly my favorite author, so Facebook was actually useful in sending me an ad for the theatre adaptation by Lifeline Theatre running through November 13, 2011. I’m curious to see how such a long novel could be adapted to the stage, but I very much enjoyed Les Miserables when I saw it a few years back and Lifeline Theatres is rather well-versed in literary adaptations. Honestly, I’m damn excited for this play and am already making plans to see it (maybe I can find an interested date to come along?).

Adapted by Christopher M. Walsh and directed by Paul S. Holmquist, The Count of Monte Cristo tells the tragic and Romantic story of Edmond Dantes, a French sailor framed for treason and torn from his fiancee at the altar by the betrayal of three men. Escaping after years in prison, Edmond flees to build his fortune and returns under the pseudonym “the Count of Monte-Cristo” to seek cold-hearted vengeance with the unwitting help of his lost beloved’s young son, Albert.

The Count of Monte Cristo is playing at the Lifeline Theatre and has been extended through November 13, 2011.

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