Sunday 27 September 2020

REVIEW: Watching Rosie with Miriam Margolyes, 27 Sept 2020 ****

Watching Rosie Written by Louise Coulthard

by Original Theatre Company

Miriam Margolyes, Louise Coulthard, Amit Shah  with Philip Franks

Released online 6 August 2020. 60% of donations to Dementia UK. Available online until 30 Sept.

Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Sunday 27 Sept 2020 (Melbourne Australia) 

Stars: ****

Miriam Morgolyes in Watching Rosie

In Watching Rosie, Miriam Margolyes totally inhabits the body and mind of an elderly woman, Alice Maxwell, who is suffering with dementia and grappling with the isolation influence upon her by Covid restrictions. 


This 15-minute online play, written by Louise Coulthard who also plays Alice’s granddaughter, Rosie, is performed with poignancy, sensitivity and warmth and written with honesty, authenticity and intelligence.


On FaceTime, Rosie checks in with her rather rumpled, wild-haired Alice who sits on her sofa near a window, chatting and smiling in a gently confused way and asking how Rosie got inside the tele, calling for Arthur who we presume to be her late, and therefore absent husband who she wants to read her a story.


Alice has shoved the flowers Rosie sent upside down into a huge vase, complains about her career, Stacey, being a common thief, coming around, going through Alice’s cupboards and eating her Bourbon biscuits, a type of bikkie that Rosie insist Alice does not have because she does not like them.


Margolyes displays moments of lucidity, anger, sadness and nostalgia as Alice, and keeps insisting that Rosie find a man. Rosie is irate and overreacts momentarily to what she clearly hears as criticism of her lifestyle.


‘Being on you own is not all it’s cracked up to be. You remember that,’ says Alice knowingly.


Alice lights up when she answers the doorbell to Kavan, the delivery man. She totes Rosie, who is still online on the laptop, to the front door, where we see tall piles of loo paper rolls inside the doorway. This is Alice’s perfect opportunity to introduce Rosie to a nice, handsome young man. Perhaps it will work. Rosie and Kavan are evidently as lonely and isolated and as Alice during lockdown.


The most poignant moment is the ending when Alice perches her framed photo of Arthur carefully on the back of the couch and Rosie plays her a recording of a man’s voice reciting A Shropshire Lad by AE Houseman. Alice is content to listen to ‘Those blue remembered hills’. 


This piece, directed by Michael Fentiman, is a loving, gentle and lyrical short play that is perfectly suited to online performance, a form to which we are now all accustomed. It will be a strange experience to go back into the theatre surrounded by all those breathing bodies instead of peering into the eyes and souls of actors who are centimetres from us, albeit on screen.

By Kate Herbert


Miriam Margolyes as Alice Maxwell

Louise Coulthard as Rosie

Amit Shah as Kavan

with Philip Franks

Directed by Michael Fentiman

Composer Barnaby Rice