Story: Rose Dewitt Bukater ‘Dawson’ wants to tell the story of the RMS Titanic, the massive passenger liner which sank in April 1912 along with more than 1,500 of its passengers and crew.
The wealthy Rose, then 17, survived that maritime disaster but her newfound lover aboard the ship, itinerant artist Jack Dawson, died from hypothermia after hoisting Rose safely aboard a piece of floating wreckage. It’s quite the tragic love story, something Rose believes is perfect for an adaptation to the stage or, better yet, perhaps the silver screen in this year of 1936.
So she presents her idea to a group of potential producers and investors. She’s a bit of a diva, though, so one never is really sure if Rose is speaking in the present or transporting herself back in time to the greatest romance of her life. The ill-fated maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic is a newsworthy and dramatic tale, for sure. But is the mercurial Rose the best one to tell it?
Highlights: Rachel Tibbetts helms this fanciful, funny yarn inspired by James Cameron’s epic 1997 film which garnered a record-tying 11 Academy Awards, mining newly discovered comic potential in the character played originally by Kate Winslet.
Other Info: At a brisk 35 minutes or so, Never Let Go is performed faster than the time it took for the wondrous Titanic to sink after hitting an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean. Playwrights Will Bonfiglio and director/ERA artistic director Lucy Cashion fill this merry excursion with more than enough lifeboats of humor to safely float an appreciative audience.
Bonfiglio appears on stage as a hapless assistant to the domineering Rose, who fully expects everyone to cater to her needs just as the crew did for her and other wealthy guests aboard the Titanic. With nary a word of dialogue, Bonfiglio’s looks and gestures amusingly convey his thoughts about the capricious prima donna doing her best to convey her ‘star’ power.
Tibbetts once again demonstrates her flair for comedy as Rose saunters through the audience soliciting assistance for various bits while always reminding others that she’s a special sort and fully deserving of their attention, time and certainly any money they would ‘wisely’ invest in her idea about a Titanic show.
Whether collapsing on stage, breaking into an Irish brogue or chastising Bonfiglio’s tramped-down character or a besieged audience participant, Tibbetts amusingly conveys how the impervious Rose is a woman who blithely believes the world should capitulate to her every whim.
Designers Morgan Fisher and Bess Moynihan give the tiny performing space an appropriately disheveled look and Miranda Jagels-Felix performs admirably in the roles of dramaturg and stage manager.
For this maiden presentation of Never Let Go, Tibbett’s Rose indeed is an entertaining and amusing ‘queen of the world.’
Play: Never Let Go
Venue: The Improv Shop, 3960 Chouteau Avenue
Dates: April 26 and 27 at 10 p.m.
Tickets: $15-$20; contact www.eratheatre.org
Photos courtesy of ERA