Tag Archives: Scott le Crass

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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Country Music
★★★★

Omnibus Theatre

Country Music

Country Music

Omnibus Theatre

Reviewed – 31st May 2019

★★★★

 

“amidst a mixed bag in terms of design and script, there lays a five-star performance from Cary Crankson”

 

At least on the face of it, or on any level I can fathom, Simon Stephens’ ‘Country Music’ is not about country music – much to the disappointment, I presume, of the front row who have all come prepared in their rhinestone cowboy hats. The set (Liam Shea), consisting of a raised platform with ropes pulling tight at its corners – a boxing ring? Or maybe a boat? – is another red herring. Whatever it’s meant to be, it’s unclear.

But beyond this initial confusion is a beautiful ninety minute performance. Cary Crankson plays the part of Jamie with such pain-staking nuance – the slight drawl, almost rhythmic; wide eyes and slow but purposeful movements conveying both psychopathic aggression and boyish sweetness – it’s near impossible to imagine him playing any other role. We follow him over a twenty year span, first as a thuggish eighteen-year-old running away from a violent crime, with fifteen-year-old Lynsey (Rebecca Stone), then ten years later, on his second stint in prison with visiting stepbrother Matty (Dario Coates), and finally as a repentant middle-aged man with a daughter he hardly knows (Frances Knight), before winding back twenty years to a sunny afternoon just before it all went irreversibly wrong.

Plot details are drip-fed organically via casual conversation, leaving the audience to work a little to put the pieces together, but the characters are so well developed, there is the impression that the performers know their parts far beyond what the script alone has given them. The dialogue is perfectly paced, allowing for believable patter – funny silences trying to chew through a sweet, accidentally talking over each other, strained small-talk when it’s clear so much more is going unsaid.

Creative lighting (Benny Goodman) and sound are used almost exclusively between scenes to denote a leap in years – Kid-A-style snippets pair with slowly pulsating yellow lighting, like an old movie projector. The abrupt lack of any distractions during the scenes, in comparison to these poetic passages of time, creates an honest starkness. There are no jazz hands, no light relief, except that which the characters themselves create – a small joke or two, eked out amidst moments of distress and frustration.

All of this added up, however, doesn’t quite make a full plot. Either it should have been a half hour shorter – a perfect tableau of a man’s life – or it needed a second half. There is no excess, and the audience is focussed throughout, but in short, Scott Le Crass’ direction sees a beautiful and heart-breaking portrayal of an unfinished story. That said, amidst a mixed bag in terms of design and script, there lays a five-star performance from Cary Crankson. Whilst his co-stars all fulfil their duties honourably, Crankson’s ability is masterful, taking this production from mediocre to a must-see.

 

Reviewed by Miriam Sallon

Photography by Bonnie Britain

 


Country Music

Omnibus Theatre until 23rd June

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Gauhar Jaan – The Datia Incident | ★★★★ | April 2018
The Yellow Wallpaper | ★★★★ | June 2018
Blood Wedding | ★★★ | September 2018
Quietly | ★★★ | October 2018
To Have to Shoot Irishmen | ★★★★ | October 2018
The Selfish Giant | ★★★★ | December 2018
Hearing Things | ★★★★ | January 2019
The Orchestra | ★★★ | January 2019
Lipstick: A Fairy Tale Of Iran | ★★★ | February 2019
Tony’s Last Tape | ★★★★ | April 2019

 

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