Funeral Flowers at the Bunker
“As the water burns my skin, I’m still not clean,” says Angelique (Emma Dennis-Edwards), after the worst night of her life. Funeral Flowers is a deeply upsetting and incredibly important one-woman show with a powerful script, top-quality acting and a storyline so sad it leaves several of us in tears.
Angelique is a 17-year-old floristry student who lives with foster parent Sam because her mum is in prison and her dad (i.e. “the sperm donor”) isn’t around. She has a boyfriend, Mickey, who she makes a point of saying is attractive, but even through her excuses and explanations for his behaviour it’s clear he isn’t a good guy. Mickey is in trouble with gang leader “Rampage” because he meant to sell drugs to the “posh white kids from Berkshire” and didn’t, so he decides that Angelique is going to help him clear his debts.
Funeral Flowers is immersive without being scary. Early in the show, the audience is brought down to sit on the stage as the guests of a party, witnesses to a crime and to act as Angelique’s confidants. Sitting on the floor is hard on the knees, but it creates a sense of community among the spectators.
The stage area has a backdrop of small flower bouquets hanging upside down. The flowers are illuminated by a backlight with changing hues of blue, purple, green and yellow. There is a work bench with a vase of white tulips in front of a large white sheet. On either side of the stage are two elevated platforms, which Dennis-Edwards alternates between. Voice-overs and music are used to enhance certain scenes.
The script, written by Dennis-Edwards, is powerful and convincing. Rather than appearing as a PSA, the writing and acting bring through the character’s vulnerability and uncertainty. The way the protagonist tries to justify things that, as an adult audience, we know are not ok, is heart-breaking and accurate for how someone in that situation is likely to feel.
Angelique is a pleasantly multi-layered character who is intelligent but naïve, sweet but quick to anger. She feels like a real person and it’s easy to forget the theatre and the people around and want to go up to her and tell her she didn’t do anything wrong. The script manages to create emotional responses in the audience without being too over the top: the reason this show is so powerful is because Angelique’s experience sadly isn’t unique, it is painfully realistic. Funeral Flowers will stay in the mind and, hopefully, might open some people’s eyes.
Photo: Kofi Dwaah
Funeral Flowers is at the Bunker from 15th April until 4th May 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch the trailer for Funeral Flowers here: