Two’s Company, Rose is a Rose is a Rose is a Rose

Review in Issue 10-4 | Winter 1998

Gertrude Stein’s plays are a challenge for any director. They read like short poems – with no designated characters, settings, stage directions or dramatic structure at all. Some of them are no more than a few pages long. The plays are so unconventional that they are performed as rarely today as they were during Stein’s lifetime (1874-1946). But for the imaginative director, Stein’s plays are witty and challenging experiments in theatrical form – as Anne-Louise Rentell demonstrates in her intelligent and sympathetic staging of five of the early plays for Two’s Company at The Colour Box Theatre.

Gertrude Stein did for the written word what Picasso and the Cubist movement did for modern art. She redefined the relationship between form and content in literature. Stein rejected narrative storytelling techniques and instead used language – often separating words from their meanings in the process – to create an emotional response to reality as she saw it. What Two’s Company excavate from these five early plays is the irrepressible joie de vivre in Stein’s writing. The company share Stein’s love of language for language’s sake and find within these short plays three distinct dramatic voices.

The performers – Natasha Bolonkin, Anne-Louise Wildman and Anne-Louise Rentell – make beautiful sense of what at first sight appear as the most opaque passages on paper. The dialogue often overlaps, questions go unanswered, and unconnected expressions hang enigmatically in the air, but the effect is far from confusing. Instead, the performance vibrantly captures something of the real way in which people interact. On a cubist set designed by Anika Carpenter, Two’s Company breathe life into the words of one of this century’s most underrated and inspirational literary geniuses.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Aug 1998

This article in the magazine

Issue 10-4
p. 24