Watching Rosie at Original Theatre Company Online
“People don’t meet each other at smoky train stations anymore. People don’t get married when they’re 19 anymore.”
“Let me tell you: Being alone isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”
Watching Rosie is a subtle and surprisingly funny 15-minute play which takes place entirely over Skype. Set during lockdown, it is a good example of how theatre has started to adapt and been able to continue in new, innovative ways during this pandemic.
Despite its harsh subject matter, Watching Rosie manages to be sweet and genuinely funny in places. The script is realistic and believable. While it’s clear that the grandmother may be living with dementia, she is still portrayed as a lively, humorous person who plays tricks and attempts to set her granddaughter up with a delivery guy over Skype.
“Do you think she’s pretty? Do you have a girlfriend already? Are you gay? Look Rosie, he’s not gay and he’s handsome. What do you think?!” The awkwardness and sweetness of this scene is endearing and also cringingly realistic. The grandmother (Miriam Margolyes) isn’t defined by dementia and the play does a great job of showing her as three-dimensional. She feels real, which is important for such an intimate three-person play.
Lockdown has made it impossible for the theatre to continue the way it was, but there are ways to reimagine it through media like video chat. Watching Rosie incorporates some interesting cinematography which, while not technically difficult, adds to the feeling that the play is trying to convey. At one point, their faces merge together until they become undefined and blurred, unclear as to where one face ends and one begins. This is a really simple and yet effective way of using imagery to portray the experience of dementia without having to spell it out.
While the subject matter is difficult and traumatic, this play manages to keep the tone balanced. There is an underlying sadness in Watching Rosie, but it is a genuine, relatable sadness which is real without being overwhelming. As with life, there are moments of humour, sweetness and human connection even in bad times, and the ability to show that is what makes Watching Rosie so successful.
Image: Original Theatre Company
Watching Rosie is available to stream on Original Theatre’s website from 6th August until 30th September 2020. For further information or to book visit the company’s website here.