Tag Archives: Maureen Lipman

Rose

Rose

★★

Online

Rose

Rose

Online via hopemilltheatre.co.uk

Reviewed – 9th September 2020

★★

 

“There are glimpses of the grandeur of the journey”

 

Solo shows are hard. If there’s one thing that’s become more and more evident with every one-person play I see, it’s that. Sure, they can be easier to produce, but it seems trickier to capture the elements that make theatre crackle and pop. With only one actor, the energy between characters can be lost. With only one central character, often recounting the past, the script can lack a sense of momentum. And with only one point of view being presented, the overall production can feel thematically flat. Unfortunately, Rose falls victim to all of these trappings.

Written by Martin Sherman, Rose sees the titular character (portrayed by Maureen Lipman) relay her odyssey to the audience through the rise of the Third Reich to post-war America. As a Jewish woman, her relationship to her faith is frequently forced to be reckoned with, from the Russian village she grew up in through to the bustle of Miami. The detail into which Rose goes reveals a number of nuances into the ways in which Jewish culture and communities shifted over time and places, and provides a level of insight that isn’t often found on this scale. However, there is a lot of detail. Running at two hours, Rose sometimes feels like someone reading their Wikipedia page at you, as plot threads and tangents spring up all over the place and never feel like they’re tying together meaningfully, or that they’re contributing a great deal to the overall narrative.

Lipman gives a strong performance as Rose, albeit one that she seemed underprepared for, and is under-directed by Scott Le Crass. Certain sections meander, and the distances between the highs and lows feels too small at times, but there are some moments when Lipman rises above the confines of the format. There are a couple of scenes towards the end of the first act – one set on a boat, the other on a train – which are electrifying as the danger of the past is made to feel present in the retelling, and the urgency of the choices that had to be made land emotionally with the audience.

It’s all the more impressive that these moments connect as well as they do considering Lipman has no live audience to speak to. I expect there’s a reason we don’t see one-person films, and it’s because actors tell stories best when they have someone actively responding, whether that be an audience or fellow actors. Streamed from the Hope Mill Theatre, Rose has no-one in the room to engage with, and it suffers for it.

With antisemitism on the rise, Rose could be utterly vital. There are glimpses of the grandeur of the journey and the intimacy of the telling merging into something poignant and prescient, but the format of the play and this production feel ultimately unsuited to each other, instead serving only to highlight their shortcomings.

 

Reviewed by Ethan Doyle

Photography by Channel Eighty8

 

Rose

Online via hopemilltheatre.co.uk until 12th September

 

Previously reviewed by Ryan:
I Wanna be Yours | ★★★ | Bush Theatre | December 2019
Falling in Love Again | ★★ | King’s Head Theatre | January 2020
Four Play | ★★★ | Above The Stag | January 2020
The Guild | ★★★½ | The Vaults | January 2020
Far Away | ★★½ | Donmar Warehouse | February 2020
Republic | ★★★★ | The Vaults | February 2020
Ryan Lane Will Be There Now In A Minute | ★★★★ | The Vaults | February 2020
Big | | Network Theatre | March 2020
Stages | ★★★½ | Network Theatre | March 2020
Songs For A New World | ★★★ | Online | July 2020

 

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Review of The Knowledge – 5 Stars

Knowledge

The Knowledge

Charing Cross Theatre

Reviewed – 11th September 2017

 

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

 

“strikingly well observed, with a constant stream of laugh out loud moments” 

 

 

Well it was a miracle I got to the Charing Cross Theatre, I live in that part of South East London & North Kent that Network Rail seems to have declared war on. Trains no longer stop at London Bridge and rarely arrive at Charing Cross at all, and this evening they decided in their wisdom to cancel my train with 5 minutes notice … So a reroute via Cannon Street and tube meant I arrived just in time for curtain up. Seated behind Maureen Lipman, whose late husband Jack Rosenthal wrote the original 1979 comedy as a TV film, I tried to calm my heavy breathing and seem as unflustered as possible as the lights dimmed!

The play focuses on three men hoping to become London black cab drivers. It follows them as they take exam after exam on street names, routes, and obscure places within the capital. This process of training is ‘The Knowledge’.

We witness the would-be cabbies progressive attempts to gain their green badge and create better opportunities for themselves and their families. Through their interactions we learn more about the people on the course and what it means to each of them to gain ‘The Knowledge’. Their home lives and varied backgrounds are slowly revealed as the stress and pressure to achieve takes its toll.

The budding taxi drivers (James Alexandrou, Ben Caplan, Fabien Frankel & Louise Callaghan) are all less daunted by learning 15,000 road names than they are by their examiner, the slightly crazed Mr Burgess, aka ‘The Vampire’ (portrayed in a wonderfully comic performance by Steven Pacey). Each of the cast were outstanding and held the audience’s attention throughout, delivering exactly the right amount of giggles and raw emotion. The supporting artists come and go adding dimension to the experience and creating memorable cameos as well as giving further insight into the background story of each wannabe driver.

The script, by Simon Block, has been expertly adapted, accentuating the original humour of Rosenthal while altering some aspects of late 1970s culture for 21st century appreciation. It is strikingly well observed (enhanced even moreso by Nicolai Hart-Hansen’s clever set) with a constant stream of laugh out loud moments and a great nostalgic soundtrack at interval!

The play moves seamlessly along keeping you wondering exactly what will happen next. You wouldn’t put money on who will gain The Knowledge in the end! A great comic evening out. Hail it while you can!

 

 

Reviewed by Joanna Hinson

Photography by Scott Rylander

 

 

THE KNOWLEDGE

is at The Charing Cross Theatre until 11th November

 

 

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