Maria can see fairies. They, unlike her beloved father dead in a car crash, are with her to tell stories and give her a glimpse of life away from her boozy mother and her abusive boyfriend. When the fairies tell her of tasks that will confirm her as their princess and gain her passage to a land of gold, Maria sets about her work - much to her mother's disgust.
Louisa Lytton convinces as the teenage fantasist at the girlish, but knowing, age of 14 and her growing relationship with Nick Bolton's calm and measured psychologist is the highlight of the play. As Maria's mother, Nicola Wright is given little to work with other than the drink, the pills and the widowhood, and John Last as her brutal sugar-daddy even less. Both do what they can, but we never get below the surface of either character. As the fairies, Amy Barnes and Chris Barley look great and promise much with a malevolence barely hidden, but neither can do much more than walk on and off stage (often) once they set their tasks for Maria.
Part Harry Potter in the Dursleys' house, part Eastenders angst and anger, A Broken Rose (at the Cockpit Theatre until 30 September) tries to be many things, but ultimately falls between too many stools. At 70 minutes, with an unnecessary interval and much repetition in Sarah Goddard's script, it may work better as a radio play, where the tension would not be dissipated by quite so many entrances and exits and Maria's strange, but understandable, inner life could be explored with fewer distractions.