Rose at Hope Mill Theatre Online
First portrayed by Olympia Dukakis in 1999, Martin Sherman’s Rose is digitally revived, starring Maureen Lipman as the driving force in a remarkable one-woman show. Rose paints her story with a richness as if it unfolds before her, with just a Shiva bench and a select few belongings at her side. A Russian-born Jew, Rose survived the Warsaw ghettos before transportation to Palestine on an immigration ship, where marriage offered escape to what was believed to be the sunny safety of America. Sharply poignant with a sardonic spin, the play instantly plunges its viewers into her colourful yet turbulent life.
Rose’s account is an intricate construction, the personal and political tightly woven into a gripping monologue that finds depth without clutter, and an honesty as brutal as the history that haunts her. A compilation of places and people, rituals, and reflections, scattered with aphorisms both peculiar and profound, it is all bound by a lifelong fortitude this woman maintains. Not a word is wasted in a narrative illuminated with vivid conviction, and Lipman is exceptional in her complete immersion.
Visual effects are used sparingly, with only a handful of projections to enhance the most pivotal recollections. This play successfully relies on Lipman’s energy alone to convey the journey to womanhood under the austerity of Nazi-ruled Europe, and the harrowing events defining that era. The camera’s brief reveal of an empty auditorium has a ghostly effect in its weighty foreshadowing of losses to come, but also echoes the gaping wounds that remain in a woman stripped of her humanity, loved ones and freedom.
A string of anecdotes reveals the drawbacks of the American Dream, as Rose struggles to heal in a society refusing to acknowledge her pain, her own son claiming: “we can’t carry you with us, your world is dead”. But Rose is never beaten, swapping tragedy for humour at every opportunity and never quite deserting her religion, the backdrop to her outlook. Though it conflicts and confuses, it is eventually a comfort in its familiarity that carries her to the end, leaving us to contemplate the idea of believing in something, even if it is not God.
Rose is a powerful story in all its parts, crafted to the final line in which the threads come together with tragic implications. The intimate delivery dives straight to the core, provoking thoughts long after. It is a beautifully compelling but devastating story that everyone needs to hear, of a woman who never quite belongs, mourning losses from a past irreversibly imprinted, but never losing heart for those left who might need it.
Photo: Channel Eighty8
Rose is available to stream online via the Hope Mill Theatre Manchester from 10th September until 12th September 2020. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.