Amy chats to Martin Sherman the writer of Rose, ahead of its opening in the West End.

Hi Martin, how are you feeling ahead of Rose opening in the West End?

Frisky. As one should when your play is headed for the West End.

What has this production’s journey to the West End been like?

Unexpected. When the play was first produced at the National in 1999, with Olympia Dukakis as Rose, it was then meant to go to the West End but there were no theatres available and the opportunity suddenly arose to bring it to Broadway. Which of course we grabbed. But it meant the West End fell by the wayside. This production originated as a streaming event, to raise money for the Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester, but there were no plans beyond that. I think the response took us all by surprise, and it has led, ultimately, to this surprising pleasure – a run finally on the West End. 

What is the inspiration behind Rose?

When I wrote it a millennium was approaching and I wanted to find a way to examine Jewish life in the twentieth century. And then that somehow synthesized into the story of one woman.

What are the main themes within the production?

That’s difficult for me to answer, because I write out of character and events, and, of course, ideas, and emotions, but I am nonetheless not writing a thesis. Which doesn’t mean the play isn’t filled with themes; but it’s up to others to discover them and comment on them and perhaps argue about them. And even sometimes tell me what they are.

Where do you find your inspiration when writing?

I wish I did and I wish I knew. I suppose life – your life and the lives of those you love and the lives of those you distinctly don’t love and the lives of those you imagine and indeed the life of the universe – – somehow coalesce into what sometimes is (and sometimes isn’t) inspiration.

Do you have any advice for budding playwrights?

Keep budding, I suppose. I didn’t have anything approaching a success until I was forty, so it was a question of holding on for dear life until then and not jumping ship.  

Dame Maureen Lipman stars in Rose, how has it been to work with such a seasoned and talented performer?

Maureen is more than seasoned and talented; she is epic and human and inspired and inspiring and life-affirming and wise and nurturing, and that’s simply the start of a roll call of adjectives. What she is giving is beyond a performance; it’s a kind of channelling, a magical journey that you never dreamed you’d be invited to be a part of. 

And finally, why should people book tickets to see Rose?

To see the performance I’ve just been talking about, and to see a great actress at the very top of her game, at the very top of anyone’s game, for that matter.


Rose opens at the Ambassadors Theatre on the 23rd of May, tickets are from £29.50 each – you can find tickets and info here!

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