Theater Review: Campbell, Green Candle join for 'Rosalee'
Burlington Free Press -Mon Nov 9th, 2009
It's a little surprising it took this long for Maura Campbell and the Green Candle Theatre Company to get together.
Campbell is Vermont's most prolific (and perhaps most challenging) playwright, and Green Candle has never shied away from difficult material, from silly comedies ("The Nose") to confrontational dramas ("American Buffalo") to complex, rewarding, locally-generated works ("Art the Father").
Green Candle opened Campbell's "Rosalee Was Here" Friday at the Outer Space Cafe, and the work is as challenging and difficult as you might expect from that union of playwright and theater company. It's not difficult from a comprehension standpoint - "Rosalee Was Here" is one of Campbell's least-fanciful, most-linear plays. But it is difficult in terms of subject matter, as "Rosalee Was Here" concerns a 13-year-old girl on probation for the sexual abuse of her sister.
At times the play is hard to watch because Rosalee is such an aggressive, often disagreeable character. But the actress who plays her - U-32 High School 9th-grader and Middlesex resident Liz Gilbert - gives a remarkable performance brimming with rage and angst and moments of incredible sweetness and subtlety. Rosalee may be tough to take at times, but seeing Gilbert play her is nothing but a pleasure.
Rosalee is an 8th-grader at a middle school whose principal, Mr. Holiday (played by Dennis McSorley), is part of a system that by its very nature distrusts everything she does. Molly (Tracey Girdich) is hired to be her aide who is assigned to follow the girl's every move.
Rosalee and Molly grate on each other from the start as Molly tries to assimilate into the school's onerous system and Rosalee does everything she can to fight her way out of it. Harshness from the system, it seems, only breeds harshness in Rosalee. It's only when Molly begins to do something no one has ever done with Rosalee - empower her - that a sort of Anne Sullivan/Helen Keller relationship develops. A few words and a little love, as "The Miracle Worker" demonstrates, can go a long way.
Read the rest of the story at http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20091107/ENT02/91107014