‘Concord Floral’ play review
By Caroline Ho, Arts Editor
Most of us who have been through high school would likely agree that it’s not all sunshine and flowers—as the Douglas Theatre Department demonstrates beautifully in the first of their fall productions.
Concord Floral opened on Friday, November 3, with a free preview show the night before. Written by Jordan Tannahill and directed by Kathleen Duborg, the play is at times grippingly mysterious, brutally honest, and agonizingly sympathetic.
The show is premised on a group of teenagers and a massive, decrepit, abandoned greenhouse out in the fields of Langley. The greenhouse is the perfect location for wild teenage parties, but also serves as a handy habitat for wild animals—and a chilling place to find a dead body, as the teens discover.
One of the most immediately striking things about the show is the setting of the greenhouse itself. As well as being personified and given voice, the structure is shown onstage by two huge, transparent walls, which are wheeled smoothly around the stage to also function as the walls and windows of other buildings in different scenes.
The large walls of the set are made especially effective by the show’s deft lighting, at times shining on either side of or through the greenhouse glass to produce some sublimely eerie, surreal effects. However, in terms of lighting, the most intriguing scenes are the ones where the characters use their own cell phone screens and flashlight apps to provide illumination.
Cell phones and present-day modes of communication play an integral part in the show. Concord Floral was first produced in 2015, and it certainly shows its modernity and the youthfulness of the characters, especially with their constant use of social media. The teens fawn over Facebook likes, strive for the right selfie angles, and browse the dark sides of Craigslist with an ease that’s made all the more familiar through the show’s self-aware humour.
This relatability shines through—poignantly and at times painfully—in every aspect of the play. It’s an authentic high school story, and not even just for anyone who has graduated in the last decade or two: Alcohol-fuelled parties, sex, ostracization, family problems, and teenage drama abound to convey a broad spectrum of the experience of adolescence, in a way that is witty, moving, charmingly uncomfortable, and, on occasion, genuinely unsettling.
In both dialogue and monologues, the characters are delightfully frank and unfiltered, just as in any conversation between friends, complete with the perfect level of high school cattiness and all the awkwardness of teenagers discovering their own bodies. The show is full of scenes that are both empathetic and mildly mortifying for their relatability. Although the story does have plenty of twists, the most shocking thing is how easy it is to connect with the teens in their most discomforting, boundary-pushing moments.
It’s not entirely a lighthearted, flowery play, but it’s a moving one, with characters and situations that truly strike a chord.
Concord Floral runs in the Douglas Studio Theatre until Friday, November 10. Tickets are available online at concordfloral.bpt.me.