Martin Sherman’s one woman show is incredibly engaging and features a truly charismatic performance from Maureen Lipman.
In recent days, we have heard how the Queen has overseen some of the most powerful moments in history during her 70 year reign and it really seems pertinent that Martin Sherman’s play is staged once again as it involves a character who is reflecting over her own life story and experiences – also through so many turbulent times in history.
This one woman show is a really harrowing experience as Rose recounts her story from her early childhood living with her stoic mother and father through the horror and devastation of Nazi-occupied Europe to finally managing to build a new life for herself. Written with great sensitivity and vividness by Martin Sherman – this is a really engaging monologue that highlights so many issues including racial tensions and anti-semitism which are sadly all still too relevant today.
As someone who for her final piece of coursework for her A-Level looked at the Holocaust and read as much material as I could about the subject, some of the moments that made the most impact on me was the ones of describing the hunger and horror of being imprisoned by the Nazis and the violence she witnessed at their hands. The way in which these moments have been written and then so heartbreakingly recounted through Maureen Lipman’s stellar and thoughtful performance are deeply poignant, with the language flowing with ease and emotion.
Although in many ways I can understand the need for an interval (it is an emotionally exhausting piece to have to perform), I do feel as though that this disrupts the flow of Rose’s narration and it can take some time in the second half to settle down to where the show was before the interval. I also found that some of the stories that Rose recounts as she settled into a new life felt of a different tone that was surprising, leaving me unsure of exactly what she was trying to say – although once again, her stories involving her son Abbie that highlight changing attitudes in a new and modern world are powerful.
As a performance, Maureen Lipman delivers such a powerful and memorable one as Rose, capturing the character’s feistiness and ability to survive whatever the cost with great bravado – but equally instinctively knowing and understanding the power of the script to make the most of the humour to be found. This is a monologue that is hard (but important) to listen to and I can only imagine how deeply Lipman has to go into herself to bring this character and her life to audiences.
A powerful and memorable piece of theatre that will deepen your knowledge and understanding on so many topics, Rose is one of those plays that deserves to be seen by as many people as possible.
By Emma Clarendon
Rose continues to play at the Park Theatre until the 15th October.