4.26.10 Seeing Red
photo from the new york timesRun don't walk to see Alfred Molina play Mark Rothko in Red on Broadway. This two-man play, also featuring the young British actor Eddie Redmayne (you may remember him as Matt Damon's son in The Good Shepherd), comes to us from a successful run in London. Written by John Logan (whose screenplays include Sweeney Todd, The Aviator and Gladiator), Red delivers an authentic and complex portrait of Rothko as he works on a series of murals commissioned for—but ultimately never delivered to—the swank Four Seasons restaurant. He is ferocious, pedantic and very funny, and Molina fully inhabits this character, body and soul. Redmayne does a great job of portraying his young assistant, ambitious and brash in his own right. There is no intermission, and the play moves along quite briskly. It received a roaring standing ovation the night I was there.
I wrapped up the weekend in New York with lunch at the bar in The Modern, the restaurant next door to MoMA. Inspired by Red, I was really on my way to see some Rothkos at the museum but it was so overrun with tourists I couldn't even get in the door. I guess that's a good sign. So I headed for The Modern and managed to snag a seat at the bar. I ordered the tart flambée (the Alsatian inspiration for Co.'s flambé pizza), a decadent combo of creme fraiche, onion and smoky bacon on a cracker-thin crust, and a shaved asparagus salad to help it go down. Anthony, the lovely bartender who hailed from the Amalfi coast, very kindly treated me to a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert, and then outdid himself with an impromptu tasting of bitters, starting with his homemade limoncello. My favorite was Borsci's Elisir San Marzano, a wonderfully complex liqueur with notes of vanilla, chocolate, caramel, fig and nutmeg. A sip of Fernet-Branca had me reeling from its deeply bitter flavor. It contains all manner of herbs and aromatics—including rhubarb, myrrh, saffron and cardamom—but they all seem to meld into something that tastes like varnish. He let me try some aperol straight, and then added fresh grapefruit juice, a few drops of Fee grapefruit bitters and some ice for a gorgeous, summery cocktail. It was the perfect end to a wonderful weekend in the city and now, lying in bed with the rain falling down onto the luminous green countryside, I am content to be back home.