Dame Janet Suzman in revival of Martin Sherman’s play Rose


Dame Janet Suzman is to play the lead role in the UK’s first revival of Martin Sherman’s one-woman play, Rose.

Mr Sherman’s drama, premiered at London’s National Theatre in 1999 before moving to New York, and will return to Manchester’s Home Theatre, in May.

Dame Janet will play Rose, the 80-year-old heroine, who declares that "Judaism's greatest contribution to mankind was asking questions that cannot be answered".

"It's my most popular play in Europe," Mr Sherman told the JC in a 2010 interview.

The Johannesburg-born actress, and niece of the anti-apartheid activist Helen Suzman, said: “This anarchic, agnostic tearaway got to me when I read Martin Sherman’s terrific play.

“Rose’s ironical self-awareness, her independence of spirit, her fierce instinct for survival is the story we all want to hear about the human spirit at its bravest.

“In the end she finds a moral purpose to a life forged in an immoral world. I salute Rose and her like.”

The play focuses on the tumultuous life of 80-year-old Rose. It begins in the shtetls of Eastern Europe and continues through Nazi-occupied Poland, British Mandate Palestine, America, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

During its original run it was called anti-Israel by some, with Olympia Dukakis, the actress who originally played Rose, reporting that some members of the audience shouted out during performances.

Richard Beecham, the play’s director said: “Rose strikes me as a play for our times. Written on the cusp of the millennium as an epitaph to the 20th century, this play about the refugee experience, about antisemitism and xenophobia, looks forward to our 21st century world in a frighteningly prescient way.

“It does so with real insight, bravura storytelling and a mordant sense of humour and I am delighted to be working with the extraordinary Janet Suzman to bring Rose alive for audiences today.”

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