The Rose of Jericho – Theatre Upstairs – Review
IRISH PREMIERE – 29 MAY – 9 JUNE 2018
This is the Irish premiere of the Rose of Jericho as it has already appeared at the Edinburgh and Brighton Fringe Festivals, where it received much praise. It is a one man show performed by Kevin Hely. The play was written by Alex Martinez, who was born in Barcelona but moved to London at an early age. He is married to an environmental campaigner, which should give you some indication which direction this story will take.
Hely plays an ex-British army soldier that looks back on his life. We get to hear how his parents met and about his early years. His father was a drinker and was quite violent. He moved to London following the death of his mother and lived with his uncle and his family. After a liaison with his aunt and cousin (at different times!) he had to leave the house. This left him alone in London with no education and nowhere to live. He was left with little choice but to join the army! It was a job he seemed to enjoy, but his relationship with it changed over the years.
Hely is very enjoyable in the part of Danny. He pumps the performance with energy as he moves around the stage. He makes direct eye contact with the audience as he tells his tale, which draws you in. As you would expect from an ex-army squaddie, the language is colourful to say the least. If you’re easily offended it is not for you. In the opening few lines he uses c-word three times, so be warned!
The play takes the protagonist on an emotional journey as he changes from a man who carries out tasks without asking why to someone who starts to challenge the authorities. We see a man that transforms over the years. He had four reasons for these changes and he explains each of them and their significance in his life. While the script is well written and contains a lot of humor it is not the best thing about this production. The real joy is the performance of Hely, who embraces the complexities of the man and his journey. If you’ve never been to the Theatre Upstairs, this would be a very good place to start.
Alex Martinez | WRITER
Kevin Hely | CAST