You probably haven’t heard of Flowers of the Forest. It hasn’t been performed in the UK in almost 70 years. In the centenary year of the outbreak of the First World War, it is one of the lost plays from between the wars now being brought to a new audience. The play starts on an afternoon in 1934: Naomi and Lewis Jacklin are in a marriage of convenience, having both lost their first loves during the War. When an old box of records is brought down from the attic, it triggers a flashback to two evenings in 1914 and 1916, before returning to the same scene in 1934 later in the evening.
This first scene is a bit slow to get going – it’s mostly set up for things to come. We have the conflicting opinions of two different generations; the naivety youth in the fervent pacifist, Leonard Dobie (Max Wilson) and the firm belief that the war was right and just by both Naomi (Sophie Ward) and Lewis (Mark Straker), otherwise their loved ones fought and died for nothing. Naomi’s sister, Mercia (Debra Penny) comes across as a bit of a misery-guts, old before her time. Lewis’ young secretary, Beryl (Victoria Rigby) is fixated with the poetry of Richard Newton-Clare (of the changing sentiments and his unfinished works), a man Naomi once knew before he was killed in the War. Eventually, we get a much needed (and very clever) set change to take us back to the war.
My tickets for Flowers of the Forest were courtesy of Bargain Theatre. To read the review in full, please click here.
Flowers of the Forest is on at the Jermyn Street Theatre until Saturday 18th October 2014. For tickets and more information, please go to http://www.jermynstreettheatre.co.uk/