Reviews - Fringe 2016

Fringe 2016 Review: Rosemary

By Marianne Daly
Published July 18, 2016

The audience meets 18-year-old Rosemary as she is sitting in her bedroom at ballet school. There is an open suitcase and a pile of clothes on the bed. Rosemary is reflecting upon her life at the ballet school, her life before ballet school, and how she will go on living now that her dream of being a dancer has peaked and crashed.

Erin Burley has a lovely voice, and as she sits there talking about dancing, she is convincingly lost in the thoughts and emotions of her character. She appears to be reliving memories, like the enchantment she felt when she saw her first professional ballet, watching Margot Fonteyn when she was just 6 years old. If I knew more about ballet, that detail would have helped me understand the time period that this piece was set in.

The set and costuming were very simple: a bed, a chair, and a suitcase, with ballet practice tights as Rosemary's attire. Unfortunately, none of this helped me get a sense of the time period. I found it very challenging to make sense of how Rosemary's life went from England, to China, to internment camp, to ballet school, and then finally to returning home to Canada.

I was only able to piece it together by pooling details and historical knowledge with two other audience members after the show.

Playing sounds of war from a cd player during show made sense when I read in the program that said Rosemary was trying to put "the horrors of a wartime childhood behind her," but it was not well integrated with the monologue. Neither were the sound memories of her mother singing opera well integrated.

As an actress, Erin Burley did a wonderful job of making the audience feel what this young ballerina was going through; as a writer, Erin Burley had a compelling story to tell.

I enjoyed the story and the performance, but I felt distracted from both by having to give much of my attention to trying to filling in details to understand the many transitions in Rosemary's life. A good director would be a great help to this promising performance.

Marianne Daly is a writer, storyteller and retired high school teacher.


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