We chatted to Martin Sherman about the West End transfer of his one woman play Rose, starring Maureen Lipman.
Hi Martin – how has it been to see the journey that ‘Rose’ has taken over the last few years? It’s been a tremendous journey. When you write a play you have no idea, nor do you really want to have an idea, of its future. Rose is continually performed throughout Europe, but I hadn’t expected it to return to London, and I’m thrilled that it has.
How did the idea for the play come about? It’s difficult for me to say how the original idea was born, simply because it was over twenty years ago, and my memory is capricious. I do know a millennium was approaching, an event that was more seismic in its anticipation than in reality, and I wanted to examine what Jewish life had been like in the twentieth century.
Maureen Lipman has truly made the character her own – how did you feel when you were told that she had been cast? I was overjoyed. I wrote the play with Maureen in mind, but she was actually too young to play it then, and I had long since given up hope that she would someday do it. All this would seem to suggest that I knew how wonderful she would be as Rose, but the truth is I only thought I did; even my most optimistic imagination could not imagine the transformative way she would be channelling the woman I originally imagined.
How has it been seeing ‘Rose’ transform from the page to the stage? That’s the joy – and the point – of being a playwright. When a play is finally on a page it is a relief because part of you didn’t think it could be done or that you would ever have finished it, but it is still incomplete; it isn’t a breathing entity until it’s on a stage. All of my experiences with Rose have
been gratifying; it has been performed in many countries by astonishing actresses.
For those who have yet to experience the play for themselves, what can they expect? Ah, it’s dangerous to tell an audience what to expect ahead of time, because each audience member has their own experience, which may, in fact, be a very different experience that one you yourself had imagined, but nonetheless valid. What I hope is that it is an experience, and that each person finds that it’s one they would like to discuss afterward and perhaps even argue about but also one that will hopefully linger and ultimately remembered with pleasure.
By Emma Clarendon
Rose will play at the Ambassadors Theatre from the 23rd May until the 18th June 2023. To book tickets click here.