by Susan Braun

RoseI had an opportunity to go to opening night at the Alleyway Theater as the Jewish Repertory Theater launched its new season last week with a production of Martin Sherman’s thought-provoking one-woman show entitled Rose. The play is directed by Saul Elkin and stars Christina Rausa in a compelling performance as Rose whose story unfolds while she is sitting shiva (a mourning period of 7 days observed by Jews after the death of a loved one.) in her apartment in Miami Beach. According to tradition, the mirror is covered in black, her feet are bare and on her sweater she has pinned a black ribbon that has been partially cut in observance of the Jewish ritual of K’rian. Rose informs us that she is mourning the loss of a nine-year old girl who has been shot through the forehead by a bullet that Rose thinks probably cut her thoughts in half as it passed through.

While Rose is sitting on the bench, she reflects upon the events of her life, beginning with her birth in a shtetl (Yiddish for “small town”) in the Ukraine 80 years before. Her story parallels the history of twentieth century Jewish life as she moves from the shtetl to Warsaw, to Atlantic City and finally Florida. Along the way she reveals that she has been married and widowed at least twice and tells about her adventures in a commune in Connecticut and her visits with her son in an Israeli settlement.

The stage is starkly furnished which focuses the audience’s attention squarely on Rausa’s performance. She makes a genuine connection with the audience as an elderly Jewish woman who, in spite of her tragic history, has managed to retain a sense of humor. I enjoyed the performance and would encourage you to act quickly to see the play. Rose will be on stage at the Alleyway Theater until November 1st. More information about tickets and performance times can be found at www.jewishrepertorytheatre.com.

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