THE ROSE TATTOO

Review by Norm Gross

The PMP Network


Boston's Huntington Theatre Company is now presenting its new production of Tennessee Williams' "The Rose Tattoo." A major Tony Award winning success on Broadway in 1951, it's reception was equally auspicious when released as a much anticipated Hollywood motion picture in 1955 (starring Anna Magnani (the great Italian actress for whom the role was originally written), who went on to win the Academy Award that year for her performance. Certainly big shoes for TV's Andrea Martin to step into, in this new revival... but, suffice it to say, that she not only takes on this legendary central role, but most certainly does make it her very own. Set on the Gulf Coast, between New Orleans and Mobile, devoutly Catholic Serafina della Rose, a widow for several years, has mourned her handsome truck-driver husband. Sexually virile, with a prominent "Rose" tatooed on his chest, (in her honor), he was killed in a trucking accident, somehow related to his secret underworld ties. As the community's favorite seamstress, reclusive Serafina, while tending to her customers, is also troubled by Vivi, her 15 year old daughter, who's romantically attracted to Jack, a local youth, on leave from his duties as a U.S.Navy sailor. In a touching and grandly comic scene, she forces the bewildered young recruit into kneeling and praying, before her household statue of "Our Lady,"swearing to never " disrespect "Vivi!"! Also, while still very fixated on the revered memories of her deceased spouse, unanticipated suggestions about his infidelity begin to surface that distress her. Into this mix, Alvaro Mangiacavallo, a manly truck driver, unexpectedly introduces himself to her. Like her late husband, Alvaro's firm chest is also adorned with a similar flowery tattoo! He soon rekindles Serafina's long dormant sense of romance, and their comic courtship quickly becomes the play's grandly affecting center. As noted above, Andrea Martin is absolutely superb as Serafina, quite literally dominating the play with her commading and well rounded performance. Fine backing is also provided by Sophie Rich as Vivi, Ryan Sypek as Jack, and most especially Dominic Fumusa as Serafina's new romancer, Alvaro. The large supporting cast also offers well defined performances, for the most part, although several of the minor roles, especially those of some neighborhood female gossips came off as much too overdrawn, for the sake of easy laughter. Extra notice is also due for James Noone's highly atmospheric revolving set, which effectively established the play's various scene changes, and especially for Nicholas Martin's (no relation to Andrea) knowing direction. Now playing through June 13. (My Grade:4.5)