Slow Death of a Lotus Flower at the Etcetera Theatre (Camden Fringe)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

‘Slow death of a lotus flower’ describes itself as a “surreal poetic tragicomedy on the clash between idealism and reality”. Written and directed by Benedetta Scuto, this is the first professional production from international graduates of the Fourth Monkey Drama school.

The action is set in a hotel cloakroom, with the different character threads pulling us into different places and moments as we explore their stories. Scuto leans into the surreal, letting her imagination fly with this funny, warm but also heartbreaking piece about hope, dreams, relationships and Dostoevsky. The comedic opening to the show gave me the reassurance I needed to relax and go with it. To trust that the different elements would ultimately knit together in a satisfying way, which they do. Scuto doesn’t drop a stitch, despite the complexity and ambition of her story.

This is very much an ensemble piece, made up of a consistently brilliant international cast of six: Matisse Ciel Pages, Meghan Mabli, Clio Carrara, Amy Rushent, Marco Teixeira and Louis Cruzat. There is something joyful in the chemistry between the performers, who clearly share a deep love for the play. It was also refreshing to have a non binary trans person in the piece and not have their gender identity reduced to a plot point, they are simply and beautifully who they are without any need to explain. Mainstream theatre has a lot to learn from young artists like these.

I could say more about the details of the play itself, but I won’t. This is a piece that needs to be experienced and not explained. Ultimately for me it was about the morality of selling hope, and the dangers of living a life driven by idealism and not love. I suspect for others it may be about something else.

The final performance of ‘Death of a lotus flower’ is at 7.30pm tonight (14th August) at the Etcetera Theatre. I hope it has a continued life beyond the Camden Fringe. Regardless, this is a talented young company who should go far.

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