Funeral Flowers (Bunker Theatre)

It’s the final day for Funeral Flowers, which has been in residence at the Bunker Theatre (a former underground car park in Southwark right next to the Menier Chocolate Factory).

Emma Dennis-Edwards created and performs this piece, which has made the journey from the Edinburgh Fringe. The play has won the Scotsman’s Fringe First Award and the Filipa Bragan├ža Award.

Angelique is seventeen. Her father, “the sperm donor” is hardly around; her mother, who loves tulips and dreams of visiting France, is in prison. Their teenage daughter is in foster care and training to be a florist at college.

We first meet Angelique sorting her flower stems, putting us in the picture about her family life, carer, college lecturer, and boyfriend Mickey (he deals drugs and she has a picture of him on her phone as a little boy with a black eye).

Over the course of the play, in which all characters are portrayed by Dennis-Edwards, we are invited to get closer to the action as Angelique recounts what happens to her at a party where Mickey gets her drunk and forces himself on her (“felt like the first time except without the butterflies”), then leaves her as bait to pay off a debt.

Then to home, a shower, more flower motifs, lilies and innocence. A change of residence after a showdown with foster mum, a change of college but still with the dreams of building a business.

This is a clever and perceptive play, and even if it might work in the Bunker with the audience close to Angelique’s monologues and reminiscences, I believe that in Edinburgh it was more of an immersive promenade performance with different rooms.

However, Dennis-Edwards effortlessly conjures up characters which feel real, from the confused teenager herself through to the foster mum who cries quietly in the car.

The closeness of the small audience to performer gives Funeral Flowers a definite edge, and in the bar with its odd ramped entrance (an inheritance from its days as a car park) dried flowers decorate the floor and waiting areas.

Photo credits Kofi Dwaah.