The Rose of Jericho

In a bare room, ex-soldier Danny (Kevin Hely) tells his life story: a troubled childhood, new beginnings in London and the horrors of Kosovo and Iraq. It’s a story that stays with you and resonates well beyond the confines of the theatre.

The Rose of Jericho is not an easy piece to watch but nor should it be. Martinez and Hely have created a profound piece of theatre that demands to be seen.

An astonishing monologue by Alex Martinez, The Rose of Jericho is a shatteringly powerful piece of theatre about masculinity, family and war, charged with a corrosive political anger that seethes at policy makers who tacitly put innocent people in danger. There’s nothing especially new in the concept but the honesty of the text: Hely’s visceral performance ensures that The Rose of Jericho packs one hell of a punch. The story is bleak – we encounter child abuse and civilian casualties, all watched over by the spirit of Wilfred Owen – but Martinez writes and directs with an immediacy that deftly draws us into Danny’s world.

The language is unflinchingly raw, passionate and, often, blackly funny. It’s dark – very dark – but humanity and humour still shine through; grim smiles are raised nearly as often as the expletives peppering Danny’s speech. With so much to contend with, the text could very well be overwhelming in the hands of a lesser actor. Fortunately, Hely is a magnetic presence. His performance grabs you by the throat and forces you to pay attention to every dark detail of the battles he has with both himself and “the enemy”. The line between these two is not often clear and one of the great strengths of piece is that it deeply and sensitively explores the moral ambiguities of the broken squaddie’s soul.

Whilst the last few moments do seem crammed in and somewhat rushed, you don’t really care or even notice, such is the strength of Hely’s performance. Every movement is tense with animal energy, every line is piercing, every image is burnt into the air and Owen’s most famous poem gets a recital it deserves: moving, tragic and beautiful.

The Rose of Jericho is not an easy piece to watch but nor should it be. Martinez and Hely have created a profound piece of theatre that demands to be seen.

Reviews by Sam Forbes




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The Blurb

A new play written and directed by Alex Martinez. Performed by Kevin Hely. An ex-soldier casts an unflinching and at times darkly humorous eye over his childhood, its impact on his relationships, his experiences of war, and the three key events that have dramatically changed his life. He is still fighting, but it's a different war now... Alex Martinez has worked with Stewart Lee, Extras producer Charlie Hanson, and Richard Herring. Award-winning actor and producer Kevin Hely co-founded Fly by Night Theatre Company with Conor McPherson and has performed around the world.