Daffodils (A Play with Songs) – Edinburgh Festival Fringe – Traverse Theatre

2016DAFFODI_N5Daffodils (A Play with Songs) at the Traverse Theatre, until 28 August.

Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

This company from New Zealand reaches new heights in ‘Gig Theatre’ – a three-piece band back the two performers, Colleen Davis and Todd Emerson. They tell us the story of Rose and Eric: “This is my parents’ story. Everything you’re about to hear is true, except for…”

So we begin. Rose is more than a bit the worse for wear, when Eric finds her chatting to the ducks on the lake, in amongst the daffodils. Eric takes the lead, protecting Rose and seeing her safely home. Their romance has begun in among the daffodils.

Davis is utterly wonderful in this role -– an expressive performer at her peak, she effortlessly captures the audience from her first glance. We lean towards her, wanting to hear her story. Emerson is the perfect match – from his beginning as a young man with the world an open oyster in front of him, his singing voice grips you and won’t let go.

This is brave stuff. The writing is so intimate, so genuine and evocative, that you cannot help but engage with Rochelle Bright’s text. The inter-weaving of dialogue and music is a delight; a perfect way to evoke style, period and context as we follow this couple through their lives together and ultimately their parting.

The band is practically another character in the show as they observe and help the characters express themselves fully and concisely through the songs.

The numbers feature material from Crowded House, amongst others, and the arrangements are strong, perfectly complementing the narrative. Occasional projections underpin the story – often witty and reinforcing a sense of period in the context.

There are a few reasons why this show is called Daffodils, but the reason I take with me is that the daffodil is such a brave, tough, yet delicate flower.

Such delicacy needs careful handling: Dena Kennedy and Bullet Heart Club pitch this show perfectly: pace, narrative, performance and emotional intensity are beautifully judged.

A true gem and highly recommended. (Oh – and take a handkerchief – it is intensely moving…)

Fiona Orr

Bullet Heart Club

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