Review: Rosa Mendoza at the Wells Maltings

Katie-Anna Whiting, Robin McLoughlin and Dawn Finnerty on stage in fEAST Theatre's Rosa Mendoza.

Katie-Anna Whiting, Robin McLoughlin and Dawn Finnerty on stage in fEAST Theatre's Rosa Mendoza. - Credit: David Greeves

What could upset the idyllic applecart of the Poppyland Guest House in the quintessentially English seaside resort of Cromer? 

Nothing less than Brexit, undoubtedly the biggest political event most of us have lived through in modern times.

The lead-up and aftermath of the 2016 referendum form the backdrop of Rosa Mendoza, a witty, intelligent and at times dark play by the East Anglian group fEAST Theatre. 

Robin McLoughlin and Katie-Anna Whiting on stage in fEAST Theatre's Rosa Mendoza.

Robin McLoughlin and Katie-Anna Whiting on stage in fEAST Theatre's Rosa Mendoza. - Credit: David Greeves

Although Brexit was a national event, it has had shockwaves in every social circle, family and workplace - including the Poppyland and its offering of 'the charm of yesterday and the comfort of tomorrow'. 

The eponymous Spanish chambermaid Rosa, (Katie-Anna Whiting) lands in between the guest house's owners, Pam Dawson (Dawn Finnerty) and husband Keith (Robin McLoughlin).

Robin McLoughlin, Katie-Anna Whiting, and Dawn Finnerty on stage in fEAST Theatre's Rosa Mendoza.

Robin McLoughlin, Katie-Anna Whiting, and Dawn Finnerty on stage in fEAST Theatre's Rosa Mendoza. - Credit: David Greeves


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A free spirit with a strong work ethic, Rosa challenges how the pliable Keith and headstrong Pam view each other and their own place in the world.

Keith is initially more outgoing and even goes so far as to suggest including exotic delights such as granola and croissants on the Poppyland's breakfast menu, whereas Pam thinks regular guests will be happier if nothing changes from year to year.  

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Keith is happy to employ Rosa - one of only two applicants - while Pam finds it frustrating that nobody more English went for the role. 

Robin McLoughlin and Dawn Finnerty on stage in fEAST Theatre's Rosa Mendoza.

Robin McLoughlin and Dawn Finnerty on stage in fEAST Theatre's Rosa Mendoza. - Credit: David Greeves

But change, much like the tides, is inevitable, and the couple's attitudes towards Rosa and the outside world are starkly twisted by the big vote. 

Although the referendum was more than five years ago the waves that it has created have never calmed, and if anything seem to be gathering pace as time goes on. 

Rosa Mendoza is a charming play, and at times a lot more confronting than I'd expected. Just as the chambermaid challenges attitudes at the guest house, the piece is sure to lead audience members to re-examine their own views.

The performances of all three actors - especially the energetic and unpredictable Whiting as Rosa - make this play well worth a visit. 

*Rosa Mendoza is touring Norfolk and Waveney until October 30, with performances at The Seagull Theatre, Lowestoft; The Cut, Halesworth; Sedgeford Village Hall; Old Buckenham Village Hal; Beccles Public Hall and Theatre; The Garage, Norwich;  Sheringham Little Theatre; St George's, Great Yarmouth; Aylsham Town Hall; Westacre Theatre and Southwold Arts Centre. Visit feasttheatre.com for more. 






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