The Rosenberg/Strange Fruit Project – 4**** - One4Review
one4review | On 06, Aug 2023
This play, written by John Jiler, recounts the amazing connection between the seminal Billie Holliday hit ‘Strange Fruit’ and Julius and Ethel Rosenberg – the couple sentenced to death for passing on top secret documents regarding atomic bombs to the Russians. John Jiler captivates the audience as he plays the various characters with significant roles in this remarkable story. It’s a tale of America’s mistrust of Communism, the rise of the civil rights movement and how the fight for the oppressed continues today. As with all stories, heroes and villains are in abundance and Lee Odom’s clarinet gently underpins the drama beautifully as John Jiler moves almost balletically between each character.
It’s an enchanting performance but is never afraid to be hard hitting – the circumstances of Ethel Rosenberg’s execution are especially upsetting. I suspect that much of the audience, attracted by the poster, expected 70 minutes of jazz and light drama – but this play is much more than that. It certainly encouraged me to spend some time on the internet reading the history of the main protagonists. Some prior knowledge may have led to a greater appreciation of the drama at the time of watching, but it’s a thought-provoking piece, well worth your time.
Reviewed by Rona
Assembly George St – Front Room
Until 27th Aug (not 15th or 22nd)