Monday, 29 May 2023

REVIEW: Rose at the Ambassadors Theatre

When entering a theatre for a monologue, or one person-performance, I often feel quizzical, with a sense of unease. How can a single human effectively capture and hold an entire audience’s attention for over two hours? The answer, an actor with masterful skill and talent, which is precisely what pours out of the wonderful Dame Maureen Lipman, currently starring in the West End transfer production of ‘Rose’ at the Ambassadors Theatre for a limited run. 

Having starred in an online production of the show early in the pandemic, Lipman is now captivating theatre fans across London with her dynamic portrayal of the title role. The original production of Rose was produced at the National Theatre and on Broadway in 1999.

To date, I was yet to see a monologue that equally enticed and entertained me throughout the entire performance, and Rose certainly didn’t disappoint to deliver on either of these points. 

‘Rose’ is a fictional tale that follows a Jewish woman as she is sitting shivah, a week-long period of mourning in Judaism for various people she has known in her life. Throughout the plot, Rose, who is in her eighties reflects on her traumatic and brutal past, highlighting experiences that span her entire lifetime. From the devastation of Nazi-occupied Europe to the allure of the American dream, Rose shares her tumultuous journey of heartbreak, loss and love.

Usually, when reviewing a production, you have a buffet of factors to highlight, from extravagant sets to full-out showstopping choreography, but here, the words stood strong and solo. Written by Martin Sherman, the text paints such vivid imagery and detail, which was only exploded into multicolour through the delivery by Maureen Lipman. 

In short, it felt like we were visiting an old friend, sitting together on a wooden bench, lending an ear to an entire storybook of raw experiences, knowledge and rumination. At moments, I became so engrossed in Lipman’s depiction, that I forgot I was watching an actor in a theatre. Instead, you become so immersed by the dynamic and unexpected twists and turns of Rose’s tale, that it isn’t until you take a step back, and are snapped back into reality during the interval of the sheer scale and depth required to perform such a monologue.

While at moments there were a few mix up with character names or details within tales, at no point did it feel as though you weren’t in the hands of a seasoned professional. Whenever the ball was dropped, it was picked up, brushed off, and continued to roll with a new burst of energy. 

If you’re looking to experience a true rollercoaster of emotions and enlightenment, then I would thoroughly recommend delving into the magic of ‘Rose’. This piece is a beautiful melting pot of unthinkable horrors and light-hearted wit, delivered superbly by an undeniable professional. Furthermore, it holds an impactful and haunting mirror of reality up to the harrowing experiences of people today.

Review by Adam Tipping 

Rating: ★★★★

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