Entertainment, Lifestyle, Manchester, Review

Review: Dame Janet Suzman as Rose at HOME, Manchester

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Charlie Jordin reviews one-actor play Rose, starring Dame Janet Suzman and now showing at HOME, Manchester

By Charlie Jordin

Image: HOME


The production begins with an old woman sitting on a white bench; the set is minimalistic, the audience’s attention totally on the woman. She is sitting Shiva, a Jewish practice for mourning a loved one. She begins to tell us about her life, starting from her humble childhood to falling in love and having a child, to the Nazi invasion which left her destitute in a ghetto. The audience observe as she analyses her Jewish identity and reminisces through her life, a lifetime which involved some of the most horrendous events of the 20th century.

Dame Janet Suzman plays Rose, the central figure in the play. She is the sole character and her presence overwhelms the stage; no other actors are needed. This creates an overpowering intimacy with the audience- it is as if she is speaking directly to each member of the audience. Her performance as the solitary character is astounding. She manages to judge each situation perfectly, combining moments of grief and anger as well as genuine humour and warmth with a unique flourish. Rose’s journey through her tumultuous life is fascinating; her life emphasises that each individual person has a story to tell. Rose is not a faceless figure in a crowd but a vibrant, remarkable woman. The play celebrates life whilst also mourning the lives lost during terrible events.

The minimalistic set is matched with simple lighting and effects. There is little musical accompaniment which means sound is used for significant effect only. The stage moves towards and away from the audience, furthering the sense of intimacy whilst the minimal set design means the attention is completely on Rose.

Rose is more than a refugee; she is a lover, a mother and a survivor. The scenario is particularly resonant today with the refugee crisis and countless innocent deaths occurring every day in warzones; each survivor or victim of an atrocity has their own story to tell.

Rose is at HOME until the 10th June. For more information and tickets, visit the HOME website.

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Charlie Jordin

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