Rose

Hywel John
Dirty Boots, MLJ and SEArED in association with Pleasance
Pleasance Courtyard

Rose is a genuinely moving, issue-led play. As such, it must be almost unique on the Fringe this year.

Hywel John's new drama explores how today's British Muslims cope with their cultural heritage and history, when assimilation is so tempting.

One suspects that Art Malik and his professional stage debutante daughter Keira, who both give intelligent and well-judged performances under Abbey Wright's direction, may have assisted John to pen the tale of another father and daughter, Arthur and Rose.

The play follows two timelines. We initially meet the previously estranged pair in hospital where Arthur, who is more English than those born here, has just been confined after suffering a serious stroke. This leaves him unable to speak, a terrible imposition for a man desperately in love with words.

Viewers discover his predilections from the other strand of the play, in which we witness his attempts to be a good father and mother to his daughter, first seen as an 8-year-old trying on her late mother's hijab (Muslim headscarf).

From then on, scenes today are interleaved with flashbacks that advance at around two-year intervals.

Gradually, we discover a tragic family history that involves immigration from a fearsome foreign land, death in childbirth and gentle revolt in unexpected directions from a daughter eager to assert her individuality against a single-minded father who wants the best for her but has a temper that cannot always be restrained.

Rose is a sensitive, inteligent play that, as well as creating two entirely believable characters, speaks volumes about the Muslim experience in Britain.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher