Thursday, August 11, 2011

"Rose" - Edinburgh Fringe 2011

This show is full of surprises. Firstly, it's a proper play. With a proper set. At the Fringe. At the Pleasance! Secondly, despite being promoted as "starring Keira & Art Malik", the performance of Keira Malik quickly dispels any suspicions of 'stunt casting'. Lastly, and most importantly, it completely challenged my preconceptions of a show examining the tensions between 1st and 2nd generation immigrants within a family.

Hywel John's play takes that already complex father/daughter relationship and adds an alcohol problem and a wife/mother who died giving birth. All this could easily overwhelm the characterisations, but John's writing carefully balances the 'issues' with moments that remind the audience these are people. And that they matter.

Art Malik gives the performance the audience is hoping to see from an actor of his standing, both as the young father and as his hospitalised older incarnation. As his daughter, Keira Malik gives a performance every bit as impressive. Her portrayal of the very young Rose is sensational, giving her clear childlike qualities without delivering a cartoon style interpretation of a child. Both actors enable the humour in the writing to come from the characters without forcing it or allowing it to dominate the play's tone.

This is very close to being a show audiences will leave raving about, but at the very last moment it loses its way and instead many (us included) were left a little confused by the final scene. A quick read of the script book and chat over a coffee and we think we understand it now - and in fact we were in danger of over-complicating things. As it would only require changing a line or two to provide the required clarity, we hope this might be addressed as the run progresses. (We saw the show on Sunday 7th)

Rose runs at the Pleasance Courtyard until 29th August (not the 16th)
Image used with permission