Shattered Globe Theatre’s “The Rose Tattoo” – Tennessee Williams’ Script Couldn’t Be in Better Hands

 

If one hadn’t seen six-time Jeff Award nominated and two-time Jeff Award Winner Eileen Niccolai shine in so many other productions one might mistakenly think that she was simply born to play Serafina Delle Rose, whose story is at the center of Tennessee Williams’ “The Rose Tattoo”.   

 

 

Whether she is angrily pointing her finger and shouting “animal” in Italian at her evil-eyed non-Italian neighbor who repeatedly lets her goat into Serafina’s yard, or imploring her Madonna statuette to give her a sign, or giving her daughter’s would-be suitor the third degree, or simply shuffling across her parlor in the dirty slip that has become her uniform of grief, Niccolai wears the Serafina character as her skin.  

 

 

The beauty of the script is that Williams lets us know Serafina in just a few lines.  What Niccolai does is make sure that by the end of those first lines we have already fallen in love with her, obvious warts and all.

 

 

Set in a 1950’s enclave of Italian immigrants who settled in the Bayou, “The Rose Tattoo” is a story of a devoted widow who reveres the memory of her late and adored husband to such an extent that she has little interest in anything else. Serafina goes through the motions of her work as a seamstress.  Her friends are gone.  Her priest scolds her for self-absorption.   Her 15-year old daughter is bursting to live life that her mother has forsaken. 

 

An accident brings a younger man into her house, whom she can’t help but marvel “has my husband’s body but the face of a clown”. 

 

 

We immediately know he’s the key to her giving up the ghost of her late husband’s imagined sainthood, but knowing that doesn’t spoil our fascination with the way in which it unfolds.

 

 

The entire cast shines. 

 

 

And are we right to surmise that masterful director and actor Greg Vinkler shared a few tricks from his beloved portrayals of Falstaff at Chicago Shakespeare with so talented Niccolai?  Keep your ears open for her mutterings at moments of indecision and keep your eyes open for how she wiggles out of her girdle and ponder if you too see Vinkler’s trademark comic paw prints. 

 

 

This production is a gem that should not be missed.

 

Now through February 28, 2015

 

Theater Wit

1229 West Belmont, Chicago

 

For tickets call 773 975 8150 or visit the Theater Wit website.

 

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Photos:  Michael Brosilow

 

 

 

 

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