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Storm In A Flower Vase - Arts Theatre, London

Published by: Steve Burbridge on 26th Sep 2013 | View all blogs by Steve Burbridge


Storm In A Flower Vase – Arts Theatre, London’s West End

Look behind the veneer of 1930s public respectability and deeper into the private world of the ‘redoubtable’ Constance Spry (Penny Downie), iconic floral designer (she is not a florist – ‘floristry is a trade!’) and cookery writer, celebrated by society matrons, and you’ll discover that a number of surprises lurk beneath.

Hailed as a pioneer for working women, Spry was considered to be ‘one of society’s new breed’. However, this accolade juxtaposed the insecurities of a complex woman who was born as ‘a child of Victoria’ and constantly sought approval from her peers whilst, simultaneously dabbling in a lesbian affair with painter Hannah ‘Gluck’ Gluckstein (Carolyn Backhouse) and co-habiting with her long-time lover, Shav (Christopher Ravenscroft).

Downie, leading a consummate cast, portrays Spry as a fragile, brittle and bird-like woman who is often as delicate as the flowers she arranges. Her performance is never less than totally compelling and completely charismatic.

This fascinating exposé, written with intelligence and intensity by Anton Burge, tells a story of marital discord, affairs and heartache in a manner that has pace but is never rushed and is reflective without any trace of a longueur.

Storm in a Flower Vase

Ann Pinnington’s production values are exquisite: the conservatory style set; the period costumes and the stunning floral arrangements all set the tone sublimely.

Supporting characters are well-rounded and played with panache by Sally George (Val), Sheila Ruskin (Rosemary) and Carol Royle (Syrie).

Like the flowers that Constance arranged, this production is only in bloom for a short time, so see it while you have the chance – it’s a rare and beautiful specimen.

Steve Burbridge.

Storm In A Flower Vase runs until Saturday 12th October 2013.


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