note: entire contents copyright 2001 by Beverly Creasey
A striking older woman sits shivah on a plain wooden bench --- centerstage. Her name is "Rose" and at one point in her life she married a man named Rose (becoming redundant) but that's another story. Let's start at the beginning: Rose is Jewish, not Catholic or Buddhist. No heavenly rewards, no reincarnation. It's the Jewish "curse" she tells us in amusement. "This is life. That's IT...we don't have a heaven or hell. We don't come back."
So begins the remarkable story of her life. Martin Sherman's powerful one-woman memory play called "Rose" is full of charming, even whimsical reflections, often on serious situations like life and death in the Warsaw Ghetto.
God is like a policeman, she says sardonically: "He's never there when you need him." Sherman's poignant negations ("I don't remember any of this," she says as she tells us what happened) make her vulnerable and at the same time, triumphant over adversity....and above all, a mensch.
Broadway veteran Lucille Patton makes Rose sassy and smart, with just a hint of the pain which she fights off with laughter. Patton shrugs her elegant shoulders and draws herself up in defiance of despair. The play is a bit long but Patton negotiates the two and a half hours with agility. Director Adam Zahler gets a playful, youthful performance from Patton without sacrificing any of the depth and strength of the material.
Joe Pew's rough cement wall, shrouded in soft white curtains which change hue under Tayva Pew's gauzy lighting, comes into sharp focus when Rose remembers the "screams behind the walls"....Patton's is a tour de force performance portraying a story larger than one woman's.
(NOTE: If you miss "Rose" in Newton, you can see her at The Orpheum in Foxborough in January.)