The Rose Kennedy play

Kathleen Chalfant as Rose Kennedy

I saw Rose on December 9th at the last Wednesday matinee at the Clurman Theater. Kathleen Chalfant was commanding as the stern matriarch of the Kennedys. In this one-woman show written by Kennedy biographer Laurence Leamer, the most moving sections dealt with the daughters. Rose understands their problems but mostly thinks they should suck it up. No one saved her from her problems and she feels others should accept, as she has, that women have less autonomy in the family and in society.  While there’s no denying the suffering of a woman who lost several children to untimely violent deaths, the brave stoicism of Rose makes for a rather static play.

The play’s heartbreaking turn is Rose’s quietly gruesome and pathetic narration of her daughter Rosemary’s lobotomy. It was really a privilege to see Chalfant working in such an intimate theater with such emotional material. She is a powerful actress and the main reason I saw this.

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