Go, Lovely Rose
We recently had the opportunity to see ‘Go, Lovely Rose’ a play by Mary Manning, directed by Gavin McAlinden and starring Siobhan Gallagher, at the Irish Cultural Centre in Hammersmith in a one-off performance.
Mary Manning (1905-1999) was a novelist, journalist, actress, film critic and film maker, as well as a leading playwright at Dublin’s Gate Theatre. She emigrated to the US, where she became the wife of the Boston lawyer Mark DeWolfe Howe after a whirlwind romance, co-founded the Poet’s Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts and worked as drama director at Radcliffe College. ‘Go, Lovely Rose’ was her final play.
The year is 1907 and 17-year old Rose Fitzgerald (1890-1995), daughter of a prominent Bostonian politician John Francis Fitzgerald, known as ‘Honey Fitz’, is full of pride, enthusiasm and glee to have been accepted at the prestigious Wellesley College to further her studies and to be taught by some of the most famous female teachers and thinkers. Rose is not your ordinary teenager. Brought up on politics, she herself has ambitions to become the USA’s first female president and attending the college will be a huge step towards this goal. But things don’t go as planned.
This glimpse into the early life of the woman who would become the matriarch of a political dynasty like no other, the Kennedys, is beautifully brought to life by recent The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama graduate Siobhan Gallagher, who not only has a strong physical resemblance to Rose, but also masters the Bostonian accent perfectly. A monologue like this must be quite daunting, but Ms. Gallagher mastered the feat with elegance and grace, showing little, if any, nerves.
This play is just a snap shot of Rose’s life, but it left you wanting to find out more about her and the woman she would eventually become. She may not have had the chance of being the first female president of the USA (something we are shockingly still waiting for more than one hundred years later), but she was still someone who shaped American politics by contributing to the political success of her children.
The direction by Gavin McAlinden, the lighting and video design by Callum Excell and the beautiful animation of Rose’s sketches by Paul Donnellon all contributed to a wonderful theatre experience. This was a lovely production and deserves to be seen by a wider audience.