Funeral Flowers @ Power Play HQ (Pleasance)

Immersive and innovative piece tells a powerful story with poetry and poise

Review by Katie Hawthorne | 22 Aug 2018

It’s an intimate act, inviting strangers into your house. We trail up the stairs of this seemingly normal Broughton Street tenement and settle on chairs lining the walls of a scruffy, spacious kitchen. On every available surface there are flowers: grand gothic white lilies with proud amber sternum, curvaceous purple balls of allium giganteum on long thin stems, armfuls of drooping, darkening sunflowers, faded tulips in washed out milk bottles.

Nicki Minaj’s Pills and Potions blares from an iPhone and our host enters. Angelique (played with spellbinding clarity by playwright Emma Dennis-Edwards) is a teenager studying floristry at college, trying to find a place that feels like home within the foster care system. Her mum’s in prison, her “sperm donor” dad doesn’t care, so for now she has Sam – an eco-friendly queer woman who’s never fostered before – and her sort-of boyfriend Micky. She’s wide eyed and chatty, but as she confides in the twelve of us who fit inside her kitchen, brief allusions to Micky’s anger throw early red flags.

Directed by Rachel Nwokoro, the architecture of the flat becomes the bones of the performance. We move on to a house party in the hallway: “You coming?” Angelique asks, over her shoulder. A stool becomes both a bed and a confessional booth as she details an assault, staring clear-eyed at the ceiling. With the flick of a light switch, we’re stood in the cold outside Sam’s house as Angelique fumbles with the lock. In her bedroom we lounge on a sofa as she reckons with her future. Dennis-Edwards is a nimble mimic, invoking a full world of familiar characters without ever losing Angelique’s voice. Immersive, innovative and carefully realised, Funeral Flowers tells a powerful story with poetry and poise.

Funeral Flowers, Pleasance Pop-Up: Power Play HQ, 4-25 Aug (not 4, 14, 21), 2:30pm, £10-£12

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