Between the scenes the lights go black save for a lamp on a desk. In the back corner is a man looking over notes over glasses. This is not a part of the play, and he is no manager of the factory. A mere trick of the light.
Rosies spins around Rose Leigh Abbott and the women in the aircraft factories of the Second World War, pumping out rivets to build bomber planes for the effort. A drama about taking the next step after suffering. Of loss, of hurt, of something that takes a part of you away to show what’s left is stronger.
The air conditioning kicks in at a moment the sounds of distant planes buzzing by would not seem at all out of place. A pure act of coincidence, but an accident that adds to the whole happenstance nature of being at the right place at the right time. There isn’t much difference in the coolness, but it’s enough to make it feel like we’re no longer pooling saliva in a sweatbox.
Actual food, of mash potato and breaded chicken somethings, sit on plates as the friends and family take a Sunday down to eat. Clinking the cutlery for the mains, they soon follow it up with what looks like a dessert of red velvet cake for a bite or two. The normalising pace allows for the scene to show how close the bond is between the women, and how they are able to actually call upon being a family unit.
Rose’s mother, Minnie, is out off to the side, in a chair down one of the aisles. The rest of the family are at the table while Rose’s daughter slums it on the floor eating like a regular kitchen urchin. They could have had a longer table for the set. But the effect would not be the same. The women who do the work share the same space. They knock elbows. They’re in each other’s faces during the day and here on a weekend away from work, they’re in each other’s faces.
Not only is Rose’s mother off to the side, down the hall and in the granny flat, but the lighting is a little dimmer. The days are waning. The years of those before the current generation are fading as the sounds of the chorus belongs to those at the main table. The child looks up at the table edge, half eating a meal and paying no attention to what possible future lies ahead. There isn’t one when the men come back and push the women on the outers where they have to fight back to be less than the equals they were. So off she runs to play in the dirt.
The second act drops in some local knowledge of the area. One reference is to the rising of the Wolf Creek Dam and the effects on surrounding residents. Another is a friendly jibe resting on one of the neighbourhoods, those of a class behaviour of their own. Both asides work as anchor points in history and set up a familiar tone, grounding it a little more for those who know the area.
The dining setting is a major tell. Rose’s mother and daughter are out on the edge, looking in. They’re not Rose’s real family. At least, not any more. She spends more time bonding and knowing those at work. The fellow riveters who have her back as much as she does theirs. That’s her family. That’s more than friends. That’s the dinner table.
Rosies: The Women Who Riveted a Nation is a drama about place setting and understanding that the people we choose to eat with is a power play for those looking to be considered family. A female strong tale where being the icon for the war effort is second to seeing into the next day.
Sliding through the gates at 14:30 on 6 May 2018 in The Black Box of the Flashback Theater Co.. Directed by Sommer Schoch. Intermission by the middle with a casual walk along an art gallery.
Reviewed on Thursday, 24 May 2018