Rose

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By Laurence Leamer.

Directed by Steve Scott.

Starring Linda Reiter.

Produced by Solo Celebration.

At the Greenhouse Theatre, Chicago.

A fascinating  matriarch’s memories of the Kennedy family.

The most effective formula for making a solo or one person play to work on stage has two main elements. One, a compelling historical figure and two, a fabulous actor to play that person. In Solo Celebration’s Rose, now playing at the Greenhouse theater,  both key elements are present. Playwright Laurence Leamer’s script of Rose is based on 40 hours of previously unreleased interviews with the Kennedy clan’s matriarch Rose Kennedy (1890 – 1995).  Set in 1969 in the hours following Ted Kennedy’s Chappaquiddick Tragedy, we find Rose talking about her life and the many key moments as yet another tragedy is thrust upon her.

rose112

The second element of an effective solo show that makes Rose a riveting show is the tour de force performance by Linda Reiter. Reiter’s triumph performance in The Testament of Mary demonstrated her skills as a solo actress. But playing Rose as a 79 year old lady from a famous American clan sure presents challenges that Linda Reiter effectively presented on stage. At their summer retreat at Hyannis Port, we see Rose speak of the struggles of being the matriarch of the Kennedys. She tells the story of her family from the beginning in the early 20th Century. We learn she came from an Irish family (the Fitzgerald’s), that her father was Mayor of Boston.

FILE--Rose Kennedy, the mother of President John F. Kennedy, appears on CBS-TV in this Oct. 30, 1963 file photo. From Sara Delano Roosevelt to Virginia Cassidy Clinton, the mothers of 20th century presidents poured their hopes and ambitions into their sons. They have now found a chronicler in Bonnie Angelo, a veteran White House and international reporter for Time magazine. (AP Photo, File) ORG XMIT: WX21
-Rose Kennedy

She marries Joseph Kennedy in 1914 and they have nine children. We see how women of her generation quietly were strong despite being almost totally subservient to their husbands. Once Rose learned of Joe’s womanizing, she had to decide either to divorce him or to stay, ignore his trysts, raise the children and establish her own life. Since family was most important to her, she stayed. We also see how her boys were treated differently that her girls. Boys were raised to go out into the world while girls were to anchor their families. Rose was a strong matriarch for her time as opposed to our contemporary take on strong women.

Linda Reiter grabs us and hold us throughout her 90 minute sole performance. My generation can still tell you where they were when John Kennedy was shot, so we still have a fascination with all things ‘Kennedy.’ Reiter channels Rose as she unflinchingly speaks of the triumphs and tragedies of the Kennedy clan. Along the way, we gain insights into Rose’s character, her subtle strength and her devotion to her family, especially her boys. We also become aware of the extreme influence of  Joe Kennedy on the family.

Younger theatre patrons will gain knowledge of the Kennedy’s as well as experience a fabulous performance by one of Chicago’s finest actresses. Reiter demonstrates that an effective performance need not be loud nor obnoxious.

Highly Recommended.

Tom Williams.

Date Reviewed: August 24, 2016.

For more info checkout the Rose page at www.greenhousetheatre.org.

At the Greenhouse Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln, Chicago, IL, call 773-404-7336, www.greenhousetheatre.org, tickets $42  – $49, Wednesdays  thru Saturdays at 7:30 pm, and Saturdays & Sundays at 2 pm, running time is 90 minutes without intermission, through September 25, 2016.

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Counter-serve chain specializing in sub & club sandwiches, plus signature potato chips.

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Bacino's of Lincoln

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The Greenhouse Theater

2257 N Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614