Shadows in Bloom

Out on a Fringe night with friends, we were trying to decide which show to see at the end of the night. At 10 PM on a Wednesday, we were looking for something funny and not too taxing. The program said Gemma Wilcox’s show was a “comedy/drama” and so away we went.

I don’t mean to start this review by saying that Shadows in Bloom is fluffy in any way, because it wasn’t. Some of my favourite films are like this show: you meet your protagonist in the middle of her life, going on as it should. You stay with them and see the events of the play unfold, and the plot becomes extraordinary in its everyday goings-on. I think it has something to do with intimacy. We just accept the events of our own life as the way things are, but when we get that close to someone else, it becomes a bigger deal.

We see Sandra, watering her plants in her new apartment. And all of a sudden, her snooty Calla Lily springs to life and begins to speak. This sets the convention for the rest of the play when we glimpse into the fantastical world of anthropomorphic plants and later, into the violent thoughts in Sandra’s head as she’s confronted with different pieces of information. Who hasn’t imagined kicking the stuffing out of a bad boyfriend?

There was also a great deal of direct address, when Wilcox would address the front row as her flower garden or patrons at a bar.

The glimpses into fantasy kept this show from being too cinematic. The characters felt real to me, especially the smaller bit parts that helped to move the play forward. And at the same time, she has a remarkable way of snapping from one character to the next that makes you forget it’s just one person onstage.

All in all, stunning.

Shadows in Bloom is playing at the Metro (Venue 3)

To find out more about Gemma Wilcox, click here.

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