A SCENT OF FLOWERS
by James Saunders.
Jack Studio 410 Brockley Road SE4 2DH To 28 September 2013.
Runs 2hr 15min One interval.
Review: Francis Grin 24 September.
A playful revival of James Saunders’ dark play at The Brockley Jack.
James Saunders’ A Scent of Flowers (1964) is set in London during the early sixties. Still, DogOrange’s production of Saunders’ play feels fresh and relevant, as we re-explore this powerful story which focuses on human compassion.
Protagonist Zoe attends her own funeral, during which she explores the events leading up to her suicide. While she hardly plays the role of ‘the victim’, Zoe’s life is marked by a lack of kindness and support from those around her. There is nothing special about her or her existence, but the dynamics in her life reflect something larger about the world that we live in. In this story, we realize that even the smallest acts of compassion might have saved Zoe’s life.
Director Matthew Parker injects some playfulness and flair into this script, maintaining a good sense of humour when handling a somewhat dark subject matter. Parker seems to especially focus on moments of lightness, making the most of the joyful reflections in Zoe’s life, especially as she remembers her time with "Gogo" (Godfrey).
The cast add to the production’s freshness, especially Charlotte Blake as Zoe. Blake fully understands that Zoe is not a victim, and brilliantly embodies someone who is both in love and at war with life. She sharply captures the character’s polarities and is highly engaging to watch on stage.
She is accompanied by a strong cast, including stand-out performances by Sam Saunders (Godfrey), Jamie Laird (Scrivens) and John Sears (David).
Designer Sara Polonghini converts the Brockley Jack into a dream-like world, transforming the space between each act. In this world, the fake paper flowers and graveyards create a disturbing contrast with the very real coffin on stage. Here, the audience is constantly reminded of the disorienting reality of death.
DogOrange’s production captures a perfect balance of humour and tragedy. I hope to catch more of the company’s work in the future.
Zoe: Charlotte Blake.
Fred: Stefan Holland.
Sid: Richard Reed.
Godfrey: Sam Saunders.
Scrivens: Jamie Laird.
Edgar: Bryan Pilkington.
Grandmother: Clodagh Power.
Agnes: Jodyanne Fletcher Richardson.
David: John Sears.
Director: Matthew Parker.
Designer: Sara Polonghini.
Lighting: Philip Jones.
Sound: Andy Graham.
Composer: Ian Brandon.
Costume: Clare Amos.