The Tennessee in the title refers to playwright Tennessee Williams, the writer of such greats as The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire, and Rose was his sister, who has also been described as his muse. Tennessee, Rose examines the relationship between Williams and Rose by travelling through time with Rose to her childhood, and how her experiences shaped her future, leaving her with scars, both mental and physical.
It is very easy to think of this show as a play about a playwright and his sister, but this play is so much more than that. The lack of understanding of mental health meant that Rose’s treatment was severe, without any care for her feelings, but only on the impact that her unguarded action and speech had on others.
Clare Cockburn has written a remarkable play giving an insight into the tortured world of Rose Williams, played with such empathy by Anne Kidd, this production warrants attention. The kindness shown to Rose by her nurse Felicia (Helen Katamba) is commendably played by Katamba, giving Rose attention and understanding, rather than just medication. Tennessee Williams (Aron Dochard) clearly was disturbed by Rose’s condition and her treatment, he based many of his characters on Rose, Dochard draws out Williams’ struggles with coming to terms with the fact that he could not help his sister.
Director Patrick Sandford was handed an excellent script to work with, and he has developed a play that is endearing, it is interesting on many levels, from a literary and historical sense, but it also shines a light on an all too common situation even in today’s society, where mental health is still not fully understood, and treatment is scare.
This play will appeal to lovers of Tennessee Williams’ plays, but even if you don’t know his plays, this is a socially significant play with historical references and should appeal to all. This is a remarkable play, and should be seen by a wider audience, beyond the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The performances are outstanding and do justice to the wonderfully written script.
Tennessee, Rose runs until 28th August, to book tickets go to – https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on#q=%22Tennessee%2C%20Rose%22
Reviewer: Caroline Worswick
Reviewed: 5th August 2023
North West End UK Rating: