Writer: Sarah Goddard
Director: Phil Wilmott
Reviewer: Robin Winters
The Public Reviews Rating:
As the old adage goes ‘Too many cooks, spoil the broth’ and never is there a wiser word for a playwright to take heed of than that. For Sarah Goddard’s A Broken Rose is testament that throwing too many ideas and themes into a production leaves a rather bitter and disappointing taste, and no matter who the chef adding the seasoning is, nothing can really be done to save its delicate balance.
Maria (Louisa Lytton) is 13, dealing with the death of her father, and struggling to lead a happy life with her alcoholic mother Jess (Nicola Wright) and her on, off, abusive partner Johnny (John Last), she creates a fairytale world in which she can seek solace. A place that needs her more than the family she craves attention from, however unbeknown to her, the present has more affect on the other than she would care to imagine and when the two worlds collide, nothing can be done to stop what will happen.
Without a doubt the weakest part of A Broken Rose is the script. The cast battle admirably with a text that balances unevenly between kitchen sink drama and a fairytale/morality story. Goddard’s script is clichéd and rather brutal from the off, leaving the cast struggling to bring life to her flat and rather two dimensional characters.
Lytton is perfectly cast as 13 year old Maria, her mannerisms felt just right for the age being portrayed, especially when the text so flippantly flits between naive child and world aware teenager. Last brings a much needed sense of gravitas to the role of Johnny, a difficult and severely underwritten part, seemingly more as a vehicle to cram in another issue for Goddard to write about, than vital and pivotal to the plot. However it is Nick Boulton as psychiatrist Dr Cole that steals the limelight in a portrayal that is beautifully nuanced, a real calm element amongst a massive storm.
Phil Wilmott ably directs the cast and brings a fine balance between light and dark, however one has to question the reason behind a rather superfluous interval, which weakens the dramatic arc of the story in order to facilitate mirroring the set. Audiences are aware and accept that in the round you won’t get to see everything, but to disturb the energy and flow of a 70 minute piece after 55 minutes seems rather misjudged.
A well designed living room set by Emma Tompkins alongside costumes by Natasha Mackmurdie evoke the 70s period perfectly and lit with atmospheric precision by Tom Boucher the technical element of the show are strong until they are contradicted by disastrous sound effects throughout.
A Broken Rose has promise but in its current form the script is rather haphazard and weak, Goddard needs to go back to the writing and really work out the story she wants to tell and how to tell it, with development and serious workshopping, it could be a blooming rose rather than a limp and dying one that is at present.
Runs until 30th September 2012
A Broken Rose – Cockpit Theatre, London,