Fear of Roses

Nathaniel Brimmer-Beller
Black Bat Productions
Assembly Roxy

Fear of Roses

One thing most people can relate to is having worked under a difficult boss. Fear of Roses ponders on this theme in darkly comedic fashion, delving into the fraught relationship between soon-to-be bank manager Tabby, her overworked and underpaid assistant Nicolette, when a third-party Keely enters the situation with blackmail on her mind.

What follows is a strangely cut-rate comedy thriller that doesn’t quite seem to know what it is. Not bloody, or cruel enough to be aiming for McDonagh but not funny or clever enough to be the Coen Brothers.

There are many other questions that the show raises: the title for example, why is it called Fear of Roses? Honestly, this puzzled me more than anything else in the play, even beyond the weird logic used to impel the characters through the illegal scheme itself. The script seems thin when it needs more depth, and then spends large amounts of time establishing non-essential character beats and background, only to end in an incredible rush.

Not that the show is without merit. The actors manage to elicit laughs when they can, and the characters are at least believably different, if not actually believable. What’s more, the madcap scheme that takes place is at least inventively silly. It’s really just a pity that the piece didn’t lean more heavily into the madcap humour, as the show definitely needed either a bit more weight there, or a much better focus on the storytelling.

Reviewer: Graeme Strachan