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The Rose Tattoo

“Marisa tomei shines in a disappointing revival”

With its religious idolatry, white dress purity, red rose lust, and Sicilian superstition, Tennessee Williams’ The Rose Tattoo is an unlikely comedy. It’s a stylised play of super-sized emotions.

In Trip Cullman’s production, Marisa Tomei plays the recently widowed Serafina, a once proud and boastful woman, now falling apart with grief. Tomei vibrates in the role, as if her body might catch alight with the depth of her feeling for her late husband and then for bumbling truck driver Alvaro (Emun Elliott), to whom she transfers her affections. Elliott matches her verve with charming buffoonery.

These characters may be foolish and hapless, but their faith and their pain are real. Unfortunately Cullman plays up the farce so much that a lot of the play’s nuance is lost.

Tomei and Elliott excel at screwball comedy. The sexual tension builds between them as they move from sheepish hesitancy and goofy awkwardness to barely concealed attraction. Their romantic fumblings are the show’s high point; everything around them pales in comparison.

Mark Wendland’s design is dominated by giant projections of big sky and tumbling waves, paired with a field of sculpted pink flamingos; these all feel too sleek and modern. A chorus of Sicilian women sing mournful songs throughout, but they are poorly incorporated into the production. Clint Ramos’ costumes establish the 1950s era but the next-door-neighbour “strega” is dressed like a pirate from SpongeBob. An adorable child inexplicably plays a pesky goat.

Serafina eventually finds her way, but the same can’t be said of this perplexing production.

Production Details
Production nameThe Rose Tattoo
VenueAmerican Airlines Theatre
LocationNew York
StartsSeptember 18, 2019
EndsDecember 8, 2019
Running time2hrs 20mins
AuthorTennessee Williams
DirectorTrip Cullman
Musical directorJason Michael Webb
Set designerMark Wendland
Costume designerClint Ramos
Lighting designerBen Stanton
Sound designerFitz Patton
CastBurke Swanson, Carolyn Mignini, Constance Shulman, Ellyn Marie Marsh, Emun Elliott, Marisa Tomei, Portia .
Production managerArabella Powell
VerdictMarisa Tomei and Emun Elliott make an appealing duo in an otherwise confused and disappointing revival
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Nicole Serratore

Nicole Serratore

Nicole Serratore

Nicole Serratore

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