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Review: Comedy trumps romanticism in this ‘Rose Tattoo’

As Serafina Delle Rose, a grieving Italian-American widow struggling to open herself to life again in Tennessee Williams’s “The Rose Tattoo,” Marisa Tomei bares just about all, emotionally speaking.

Marisa Tomei in 'The Rose Tattoo.' (Photo: Joan Marcus)

As Serafina Delle Rose, a grieving Italian-American widow struggling to open herself to life again in Tennessee Williams’s “The Rose Tattoo,” Marisa Tomei bares just about all, emotionally speaking. Sorrow hollows out Serafina’s heart and numbs her senses in one scene, to be followed by tempests of rage at the gossips who would sully the memory of her beloved husband. Later, tears of compassion flow, and, this being a robust romantic comedy, eventually love blossoms and bursts with the force of a fireworks display.

Unfortunately, even Tomei’s vivifying, staunchly committed performance isn’t enough to keep this ripe comedy at the emotional heights it needs to sustain. The production, directed by Trip Cullman with a sometimes shaky hand, only intermittently whips up the tempests of feeling Williams poured into it, resulting in a staging that favors blunt comedy over the heady romanticism that should form its essence.

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