A one-woman show starring Dame Maureen Lipman was always going to be an epic evening, and it did not disappoint…
I’m almost ashamed to admit that it was my first time visiting the Park Theatre considering I live nearby, so this theatre trip was long overdue. As I arrived, I was welcomed into the spacious front of house, where you could have some pre-show dinner upstairs and drink or snacks downstairs. The guilt of not visiting earlier was more evident as I realised that this would be a great venue to visit and spend time in, even when not seeing a show. I headed to the bar to buy myself a glass of wine, mainly so that I could tell my friends that I had a drink with Sir Ian McKellen (we were nowhere near each other, but we were in the same building at least…).
I then settled into my seat to watch Rose, a show which previously had a hugely successful online run, written by Martin Sherman, directed by Scott Le Crass and, of course, performed by Oliver Award winner Dame Maureen Lipman. The play was originally written in 1999, and remains hauntingly relevant to the modern day.
Sitting shiva on a wooden bench, Rose recounts her extraordinary life; from growing up in a Jewish Ukrainian family with a sickly father, her devastating time in Warsaw’s ghettos during Nazi-occupied Europe, to selling sun beds in Atlantic City and owning a hotel in Miami. Rose is a survivor, a Jewish woman who is made to constantly question her faith, even after VE day when she is a ‘displaced immigrant’ with dreams to travel to the Holy Land.
Lipman is utterly captivating, effortlessly embodying the grit and dry humour that Rose radiates but also sensitively exploring the profound nature of heartbreak and loss. The subject matter is heavy but with a Jewish wit that peppers throughout, the show takes you on a journey of emotions and leaves with a reinvigorated zest for life. The show is truly beautifully written; laced with metaphors of faith which eloquently portray what it means to exist in a world that makes it difficult for you to belong.
Rose is a powerful reminder that those tales you heard in the past are still happening in the present and the least we can do is recognise and listen to their story. This show is only playing until 15 October – don’t miss out.