Birmingham Repertory Theatre always seem to choose just the right topics at just the right times. The revival of their 2009 Stan’s Cafe production The Just Price of Flowers is no exception to their excellent back catalogue of productions; right in the middle of a so called double dip recession.
Staged at the alternative performance space of AE Harris in the city’s famous jewellery quarter whilst the Rep’s traditional home is rebuilt, James Yarker’s script is perfect for challenging the issues of modern Britain’s attitude towards money, borrowing, pensions and the recession all with a backdrop of 17th Century Netherlands.
Never have I seen such a tongue in cheek, yet accurate description of the way people deal with borrowing and lending with their bank managers and insurance brokers. The clever, witty and marvellously simple, yet detailed, plot entertained for its entirety.
The plot centres around the European importation of tulips during the 17th century, as the play opens it seems as though it will be dark, sticking with it, the fantastic actors take us on a laugh out loud journey through the booms and recessions of tulip trading. The piece is probably just as relevant today in Britain as it was in the Netherlands during the 17th century.
Without a weak link in the cast, it is hard to pinpoint standout performances as every cast member is superb. Bernadette Russell, as the banker, proves a fantastic actress during a couple of monologues that, of course, demand applause from the enthusiastic audience. Valerie Cutko and Jack Trow hold the piece together with chemistry that is electric.
An absolute pleasure and enjoyment to catch this fascinating piece of theatre. I say five stars but I think AAA is probably more appropriate.
The Just Price of Flowers plays at AE Harris through June 30.