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Red 

When: Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, 8 p.m., Saturdays, 2 & 8 p.m., Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m. and Wednesdays, 7 p.m. Continues through May 12 2012
Price: $14.50-$83

John Logan's two-hander about the artist Mark Rothko enjoyed mammoth popularity this year, not only because it's taut and easy to stage, but also because it's a supremely visceral play. The script is a ninety-minute discussion of art and commercialism -- two subjects that lend themselves to heated debate -- yet it also devolves into word play. Colors are a muse in Rothko's studio -- which is entirely red, white, and black in Berkeley Rep's current production -- but they're also a way of understanding the world at large. He sees red as vibrancy, life, blood, violence, and sex; black, in contrast, is death and the absence of color. In Logan's play, Rothko is fixated on the idea that red will eventually be overtaken by black. (Translation: We're all gonna die or become obsolete). That conceit propels the play forward. Les Waters' staging at Berkeley Rep has the two characters, Rothko (David Chandler) and his apprentice Ken (John Brummer), constantly jockeying for position. They're child and father, or predator and prey, but Waters makes the roles deliberately murky. Through April 29 at Berkeley Repertory Theatre (2025 Addison St., Berkeley). $14.50-$83. 510-647-2949 or BerkeleyRep.org

— Rachel Swan

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