The Tobacco Factory Theatre
Written by Martin Sherman and performance by Fiona York, this beautiful story of a woman born in Russia in 1920 who lives through the big events of the 20th century. She is is a Jew, brought up by a repressed pagan, chases freedom to Warsaw only to be persecuted and nearly killed in the holocaust and world wars.
It is a story whose detail I can not even begin to explain here now, and I still feel slightly dizzy as though I have just been taken back in time. The performance so honest and vivid that I felt a deep connection and a have come away with a greater sense of understanding. If only all my history lessons had been like this.
For me, Rose was not purely a tale about a Jewish woman. It was a tale about a strong woman, and it was a tale about people. The nature of human. The vicious cyle we seem to be in of killing and being killed.
Rose sees her family wiped out, and a new generation come forward as the 1900’s hurtles by in her memories, spoken from the heart fluidly by an incredibly talented actress. The new generation fight for Zion, and then start a new cycle of killing people to make way for themselves. In two simple acts, the death of a young girl in the first half, and the death of a young girl in the second half, events are mirrored and we see beyond who we are. We are reminded that other people are the same as us.
There is no forced message, and this is my favourite kind of theatre. That which relies only on the power of the spoken word. What more do you need, when someone has a talent for finding a story worth telling. I don’t know if the story is real, but I am sure there are people who went through as much as Rose becoming multinational citizens without a true home. Either way, tonight my eyes were opened wider and this performance will stay with me for a long time.
Thank you to the Red Kettle Theatre Company, The Tobacco Factory Bristol, Martin Sherman and Fiona York.
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