Stirling Theatre to stage ‘Rose and Walsh’, the last play by Neil Simon

A play from the writer of The Odd Couple and Barefoot in the Park is coming to Stirling Theatre.

Neil Simon’s Rose and Walsh, directed by Carryn McLean, is the story of two ageing lovers who were once literary giants.

Once-successful author Rose is going blind and facing bankruptcy while her former lover Walsh makes an offer that will earn her millions and secure her financial future – the only problem is that Walsh is dead.

The audience is privy to the amusing private conversations between Rose and Walsh but other characters can only hear what Rose is saying.

Playwright Neil Simon was also responsible for Sweet Charity, Plaza Suite, Last of the Red Hot Lovers, They’re Playing Our Song, Biloxi Blues and Lost in Yonkers with Rose and Walsh his last play.

“It’s a very funny script where rapid-fire jokes between Rose and Walsh are made at the expense of each other,” Carryn said. “But there is a serious side, dealing with ageing, death and grief.

“There are so many expectations from audiences of Neil Simon plays, and it can be daunting for any director to do justice to his work, given he has won numerous Oscar and Tony Awards over his 40-year career.

“With Rose and Walsh, we need to show the humour without trivialising the content – Walsh isn’t a ghost but a product of Rose’s vivid imagination as she deals with her love of Walsh and grief at his passing.”

After joining Patch Theatre in 1967, Carryn became a founding member of Stirling Theatre in 1970 and has appeared in numerous plays with the company over the years.

She was made a life member in 2000 and has also directed No Time On, Saving Ardley, Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, Two Weeks with the Queen, It’s A Wonderful Life and The Actress.

In 2017, she received the Susan Hayward Award for Best Director of a Play at the annual Finley Awards for her production of Moonlight and Magnolias at Limelight Theatre.

“I have always enjoyed Neil Simon’s plays because his writing has a mixture of realism and fiction behind it,” she said.

“The topic of death, and how loved ones deal with their loss, is something we all have experienced at some time or another.

“Our own personal grief can sometimes consume us and we fail to notice the effect this has on those around us.

“Simon handles the mixture of humour and grief with great skill, comic writing and much sensitivity.”

The play made its debut in 2003 at The Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. Later in the year it was staged off-Broadway by the Manhatten Theatre Club, where it was renamed Rose’s Dilemma.

Comedy legend Mary Tyler Moore appeared in the New York production during previews but left the show before opening night after she had a falling out with author Neil Simon. He reportedly chastised her for not knowing her lines.

Simon would not write any new works after this play. The following year he received a kidney transplant. Longtime friend and publicist donated a kidney to the ailing author.

Simon died in 2018 after suffering kidney failure and Alzheimer’s disease. He was 91 years old.

Neil Simon’s Rose and Walsh plays at 7.30pm November 25, 26, December 1, 2, 3, 8, 9 and 10 with 2pm matinees November 27 and December 4.  Book at TryBooking. Stirling Theatre is on Morris Place, Innaloo.

OIP Staff 

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