The Bunker’s new production, Funeral Flowers, follows the story of Angelique, a wanna-be-florist through her time in care, whilst her mother is in prison, and the breakdown of her relationship with her drug-dealing boyfriend. From the moment the audience enter, Angelique is on stage arranging flowers with a charming smile. Emma Dennis-Edwards has created a character who grows from a child-like girl to worldly young woman, who, by the time the performance is over, you really just want to hug. Her performance of every character on stage is also fantastic and showcases her abilities as an actor.
Rhythmic and psychologically sound writing underpins Funeral Flowers, with a use of rhyme that supports rather than limits the writing. But, what makes this play spark is the fantastic use of the theatre space. The stage full of fresh flowers, and the gorgeous floral smell hanging over the theatre, juxtaposed the harsh realities of Angelique’s life. The audience and characters move around the theatre following the dislocation of Angelique from a torturous break up to moving schools to the release of her mother from prison. Whilst telling the audience to get up and become part of the crowd for the pivotal party scene might seem tacky, this bringing together of audience and actor for the most emotionally catastrophic scene was affective and made the audience feel like more than passive observers to Angelique’s life.
That being said, Angelique’s emotional reaction to the appalling behaviour of her boyfriend and mother felt, in places, a little disingenuous. I think this play would have benefited from leaving more to subtext. An audience do not need to be told exactly what the character is feeling if it can be implied; at times, this gratuitous stating of emotions broke the realism of the play.
Overall, a fantastic production which shone a beautiful light on an often overlooked story. Funeral Flowers is a play that appeals to a universal audience with emotional honesty and an endearing lead character.
Funeral Flowers is on at The Bunker until the 4th of May. Tickets can be purchased here.
Edited by Evangeline Stanford, Digital Editor