Alfred Molina as Mark Rothko
Arriving at the Wynhams Theatre in London slightly early to see Alfred Molina in “Red”, I went into the theatre bar and sat there waiting for them to open the Dress Circle, half hour before the performance was due to commence.
I was one of the first to take my seat in the centre of row E. I always try to sit in the Dress Circle because of the overall visual effect one gets of the play or musical that one is seeing at the time. You can see the piece as a whole. The curtain was already up and the set was an artist’s studio. In fact, it was the studio of Mark Rothko, the subject of the play “Red”. So I took a photo.
Look very closely at the man sitting in a chair which is near the front of the stage with his hand on his head at the right of the picture.
A close-up of the man sitting in the chair.
After a while looking at the set I saw that there was a man with his back to the audience sitting in a chair to the right of the front of the stage, not moving just staring at the red canvas in front of him. ‘My God!’ It was Alfred Molina! ‘No it couldn’t possibly be!’, I thought. How could he sit there for half an hour before the play even started? Most probably it was his understudy or a stage double who looked like him and when the play was about to start he would just get up and go behind the canvas and switch with the Star.
But I was wrong! It was Alfred Molina! Studying his painting, he sat there for half an hour and the play hadn’t even started! There’s dedication for you, there’s acting! He was becoming Mark Rothko before your eyes.
Alfred Molina & Alfred Enoch
Alfred Enoch seeing the painting for the first time.
Molina and Enoch start to paint the canvas.
I can only describe the brilliant painting of the canvas by Alfred Molina and Alfred Enoch as a well-choreographed ballet. It was just amazing the way they worked together and around one another, at the same time. Splashing paint onto the canvas, until they reached the right color that Rothko was happy with. It was absolute perfection!
When the play started and Alfred Enoch came on stage, who, by the way, also gave a brilliant performance, I could hear every single word they said! ‘Good God!’, I thought. I wasn’t going deaf! I was now just watching and listening to fabulous acting. They could project. You could hear every word!!! Doesn’t say much for some of the other actors I had seen recently!
Whatever I had paid for my ticket, it was worth double. This was acting the way it should be. It was a pleasure and an honor to be able to see a master of his craft. Alfred Molina, I take my hat off to you! (If I were to wear a hat!) You deserve every accolade that is bestowed upon you. Long may you reign! Along with Helen Mirren!
By the way, don’t just take my word for it, here are a few notices:
The Financial Times.
“Red”, Wyndham’s Theatre, London — Brilliantly performed
Alfred Molina is outstanding as Mark Rothko in this magnificently staged drama about the artist.
This is a just a pre-production review by Baz Bamigboye of the “Daily Mail” Show Business Column that has to be included.
Alfred the Great!
Alfred Molina’s painting the town “Red” all over again: Actor to return to London for ‘unfinished business’ as award-winning play opens in West End
Alfred Molina is seeing “Red”, again. The British actor will be returning to London on what he and director Michael Grandage call ‘unfinished business’ — to see John Logan’s award-winning play “Red” open in the West End.
Grandage said many folks never had a chance to catch it in London eight years ago when, starring Molina and Eddie Redmayne, it had a limited run at the Donmar Warehouse.
The play tells the story of painter Mark Rothko and Ken, a young man who turns up one morning to help mix paints, stretch the canvases and help around the studio.
‘We’ve never done a West End run. It’s like a little part of the journey that’s always felt incomplete,’ said Molina who, as Rothko, took “Red” to Broadway and Los Angeles. ‘There’s something special about going back to a role you originated.’
Grandage, who directed the Donmar show, will once again be at the helm (and the Michael Grandage Company producing) when it runs at Wyndham’s Theatre from May 4 until July 28.
Molina recalled how Grandage and his team infused the Donmar with the smell of turpentine and pigment. ‘As audiences walked in, they were in a different environment,’ he said.
He remembered his co-star Redmayne meeting a woman on the Tube who showed him her handbag . . . with a red paint mark on it. ‘It must have come off when we were sloshing all the paint about on stage. He apologized and offered to clean it and she said: “No — it’s my memory of a great night in the theatre!”’ (She said it all in that one sentence. ‘A great night in the Theatre’)
Grandage said many folks never had a chance to catch it in London eight years ago when, starring Molina and Eddie Redmayne, it had just a limited run at the Donmar Warehouse.
Grandage approached him to tell him the play would, finally, be getting a West End season. ‘Eddie said: “Wouldn’t it be lovely to do?! But I’m getting closer to Rothko (in age) now.”’ Molina, 64, has carved out a thriving TV and film career in the U.S., but said he often dreams of the West End. He’s happy to be coming back to London, but admitted to feeling ‘a little scared’ at the prospect of treading the boards again.
‘I’ve always loved the theatre, but I’ve made my living working in television and film, and my forays into theatre are infrequent. I sometimes worry that the theatrical establishment is looking rather askance. Like: “What’s this old soldier trying to prove?”’
Molina was speaking from Los Angeles, where he was packing up the home he shared for 25 years with his wife, Jill Gascoine — the author and actress who made her name in such popular television dramas as The Onedin Line and The Gentle Touch.
Molina’s moving to another property, but his beloved wife is in a home. ‘She’s in an extremely advanced stage of Alzheimer’s. We’ve all kind of basically said our goodbyes,’ he added, softly.
‘The prognosis is always the same. She’s in a home here in LA and being very well looked after. She doesn’t recognise anyone or speak any more. She’s pretty much trapped in this very sad illness.’
Let alone is Alfred Molina a Great Actor, he also has a Great Heart.