By Geraldine Brophy; Directed by Emma Kinane
Circa Theatre | April 4-28
Floral Notes is a charming love letter to friendship, and a useful reminder to slow down and smell the flowers. Two pen pals haven’t communicated in 40 years when one resumes contact. In a series of spoken (and sung) letters and emails the two correspond, catching up on old times, filling in the past 40 years, and planning their futures. This simple premise provides the framework for Geraldine Brophy to examine the value and importance of old, close friendship. Brophy’s dialogue is a real treat; it’s delicious, vibrant, witty, and fun.
Rosemary (Brophy) is a widow, tending to her hazelnut farm and gently grieving for her husband, Tank. Iris (Jane Keller) hasn’t left New York in her life. She shares her apartment with her ex-husband and his new husband, and uses her rooftop for escape. Under the guise gardening advice, Rosemary and Iris pick up where they left off and thrive. They advise each other on dealing with family, confronting the past, and reconnecting. The play is a testament to friendship: “Irises and Rosemary, arrangements such as these have lasting qualities and will suit the season.” Of course this is a ‘micro-musical’, and songs help bridge the gap between New York and New Zealand. Supported by Michael Nicholas Williams on the piano, music adds flavor and variation to the blooming relationship. A rendition of David Yazbek’s ‘You Walk With Me’, sung as the two women walk next to each other while being worlds apart, is particularly affecting.
The plot could do with a little pruning particularly the second half of the first act, but this is a minor quibble. Brophy’s program notes credit ‘tenderness’ as a key value. Indeed the care with which these performers treat the words they speak and sing and the affection they have for each other is enchanting. It took me roughly half a second with each character before I fell in love. Like a garden, Floral Notes leaves you feeling a beautiful, fragrant joy.