Rose

Art Malik puts in an assured performance in this new play from Hywel John

★★★★
theatre review | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 11 Aug 2011

There's something very strange about watching Art Malik and his daughter Keira playing out a fraught father/daughter relationship on stage. Rose, the play they are performing, is a piece of fiction and nothing to do with either actor's experience, but it's all too easy to picture them inhabiting these parts in real life. Given the emotional barbs the pair fling at each other, performing this show every evening must be a testing experience for them.

Arthur is a Middle Eastern immigrant with a passion for Englishness. His London-born daughter Rose wants to know who she is and where she comes from, but Arthur is unwilling to delve into his painful past to satisfy her curiosity. Set in the hospital room where Arthur is dying following a severe stroke, Hywel John's play explores issues of identity and belonging, looking back at Rose's relationship with her father from a moment in their lives after she has grown frustrated by his evasions and left him for good.

Malik savours the delicious wordplay of the piece, old-fashioned phrases like "blow me down"and "blasted" peppering his speeches. Arthur's pain, when describing his wife's death in childbirth, is palpable and it is impossible not to feel for this damaged man, however many mistakes he has made. Keira Malik is less assured as Rose, her performance tending to heavy-handedness in places. This shortcoming, however, does not do too much harm to what is an otherwise engaging and thought-provoking piece of theatre.