Rose ★★★★ Ambassadors Theatre | May 23 - Jun 18, 2023

In a bravura performance, Maureen Lipman sits in front of the audience for over two hours and weaves a story that holds the audience's attention through the power of her voice and the heartfelt nature of her monologue. Rose traces the life of a young woman born in the Ukraine, survivor of the Holocaust and immigrant to America. It is full of humour and pain, and Lipman brings her character to life without reliance on props or an elaborate production. She brings the audience into Rose's world and shares an astonishing life that is bound to resonate with all listeners. However, while the first act seems to be simply a chronological recounting of a fascinating life that mirrors the Jewish experience in the 20th century, the second act explores more complicated issues in a thoughtful and nuanced way. It is the displacement of Jewish people after WWII that leads to the creation of the state of Israel and to the idea of a homeland for a population that had been without its own state for centuries. And, from the end of the war, Rose is an enthusiastic supporter of this plan, seeing it as a solution to her enduring sense of alienation. For, even as she finds a materially successful new life in America, she longs for a spiritual and cultural home and for the life that has been destroyed. The sad irony is that the new state proves not to correspond to her aspirations. The larger question of what constitutes a place of belonging continues to haunt her and universalises her experience. The politics of nationalism and its false promise is as prevalent now as it was when it led to the destruction of Rose's world and her enduring sense of loss. Maureen Lipman's performance is a tour de force, and Rose gives us a lot to think about.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Alastair Muir.

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