SHE Wears A Scented Rose has more twists and turns than an Alpine Pass. More layers than a delicious French onion. To cut to the chase, it is a first rate play, from start to bloody finish.
Written and directed by Yasir Senna, it tells the story of Mark (an excellent Craig Karpel), victim of a viscous stabbing that leaves him clinging onto life. Indeed, early on, Senna teases the audience by convincing them that Mark has died of his injuries. But like Lazarus, he comes back from the dead. Not once, but twice.
To begin with, it seems that Mark has been the victim of a random carjacking. But there is more to Mark than first meets the eye. He is a bit of a wide boy made good who is a serial philanderer. He just cannot keep it in his pants. No woman, very young (16) or old, is safe in his company.
Through some sleuth work from French DI Kane (a convincing Rosalie Carn), and some frank to the point analysis by lifelong friend Dave (a cheeky Simon Ryerson), it soon becomes apparent that this is no chance crime. It is a crime of passion, or to be more precise a crime based on a massive betrayal.
Cleverly, Senna manages to keep unpeeling the onion layers. Who is the attacker? Olivia, the office temp from Huddersfield, whom we never see but Mark has a thing about? (no surprise there). Or is it someone much closer to home, a relationship that if revealed to connected parties (closest friend, Mark’s wife and daughter) will fracture friendships forever and end in family tragedy and bloody revenge?
It really is fine suspense as the jumbled jigsaw pieces start to fit into their rightful places but not before Senna mischievously leads the audience down some dead ends. It does not let up until the near end when the phone rings in Mark’s house and all the loose wires suddenly connect – and blood flows.
There is some mighty fine acting in amongst the blood and gore. Karpel leads from the front, his piercing menacing eyes telling us all we need to know – that his Mark is a ruthless piece of work, in business and in pursuit of the fairer sex. Handsome, repulsive but utterly compelling.
Ryerson is excellent as Dave – creating a character that is loveable, loyal, down to earth, loud, shrewd and can read Mark like a book. Very believable although Dave goes off the rails at the end (some would say justifiably so).
There is great support from Niki Mylonas who plays Verity, Mark’s long suffering wife. Her steady character deserves a medal for devotion to a repellent individual. Emma von Schreiber and Charlotte Campbell also excel as Neve and Sadie, Mark and Dave’s respective daughters. Sadie’s ‘meltdown’ is quite spectacular.
Skilfully, Senna uses nearly all the other characters – private detective Denly (Michael Mayne), teacher Mr Steel (Martin Balanow) and Doctor Nicalou (Christopher Dascalopoulos) – to contribute important pieces to the play’s jigsaw. Inclusive.
You could argue that some of the scenes would benefit from a little pruning – for example, the wailing scene in the morgue. Also, occasionally, the plot is a little unbelievable. Honestly, would a DI dress provocatively and then visit someone integral to their enquiries in hospital late at night when most people are in bed? Maybe it can be explained away by the fact that DI Kane is French and is infused with amorous ways. Maybe not.
But that is nit-picking. She Wears A Scented Rose is a super piece of theatre. It runs at Theatro Technis in Camden, London until October 20. Well worth two hours of your time. A gem that enthrals from start to end.