Ophelia’s Flowers Drowns in Thought
Hamlet, Shakespeare’s melancholy Dane, is an unforgettable character in the theatre. Yet what happens when none of the characters remember who they are, meeting in a shadowy afterlife? Do they make better choices this time, or do they fall into old, familiar shoes?
This is the question that Meagan McDonald tries to answer in her first play, Ophelia’s Flowers. It’s a valid position – In Hamlet, Ophelia is terrified and eventually driven mad when the three men in her life (her father, brother, and on-again, off-again boyfriend) use and manipulate her to achieve their own ends, even after her tragic suicide by drowning. When Ophelia wakes up in a unfamiliar world after her death, her wanderings lead her to meet the other characters, who slowly begin to understand who they are.
There are some questions this script doesn’t answer – presumably everything starts after the end of Hamlet, since the first major character Ophelia meets is Hamlet himself, although he dies considerably later than her in the original play. The afterlife is poorly defined as well – where exactly are they? Most of the characters died in the previous play, so afterlife is the first thought – but Horatio is there as well, and Old Hamlet is nowhere to be seen. Polonius also manages to die again.
This isn’t to say that this isn’t a good script – the only issue is that it’s very Expressionistic, and most of the actors and production team don’t have the level of experience necessary to pull it off. With 10 actors this is one of the larger shows at Fringe, when with a little script editing and character doubling this show could easily be adapted for half that amount of bodies onstage. The venue itself, the hall at St. Paul’s Eastern United Church, gives an otherworldly feeling compared to the other purpose-built Fringe venues, but the acoustics are so bad that signs are posted suggesting spectators sit in the first 2 rows if possible. Although this show is advertised in the Fringe program as being 70 minutes long, it was closer to 80.
Again, this is a script that could show a lot of promise, but this production isn’t doing it any favours. In no way do I mean this as a slight against the actors or production team, because this script isn’t a good fit for them either. The best thing to hope for is that, like Ophelia in this play, at the next theatre festival (Fresh Meat, perhaps?), McDonald and her script will emerge and make their own right choices.
A production of Angel in the Rafters and Richard Bercuson
Written by Meagan McDonald
Directed by Candice Zimmerman
Stage Manager: Mary Davidson
Assistant Stage Manager: Julie Landriault
Featuring: Daryna Bronnykova, Kevin Da Ponte, Bianca Gabriel, Lucas Gabriel, Meagan McDonald, Angela Pelly, Bruce Rayfuse, Daniel Rheaume, Laura Sosnow, Jeff Swim
Makeup: Daryna Bronnykova
Administration: Benjamin Miller
Website: Kaitlyn Daw
Website Photos: Kaitlyn Fortier
Social Media: Candace Blake