Many characters die in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Ophelia’s Flowers delves into the afterlife to find out what happens next.
Should you see it?
Ophelia’s Flowers has a really interesting concept; the afterlife of the characters in Hamlet. Their “lives” and relationships and struggles continued beyond death in an afterlife where they’re forced to relive their past sins. Unfortunately, that concept is not well-realized.
In this afterlife, the main plot revolves around the corruption of Ophelia and convincing her to choose to stay in this damnation of rinse and repeat. It took me a long time to understand that. Like forty minutes kind of long.
The biggest trouble with Ophelia’s Flowers is that there is a heavy abundance of purple prose – prose written for the sake of trying to be pretty and draws attention to itself for being so. In the hands of experienced, professional actors, and with a little more polish, the prose might have been less purple and more poetic, but this was not the case.
The result was that large sections of the play, performed by actors who couldn’t pull it off and create any connection with it, was tedious and boring. I, sadly, had a hard time keeping engaged in it at all.
Throw in that (partly because of this, partly the writing in general) its very difficult to figure out exactly what anybody wants or why they’re there, and the play falters more than it entertains. Some scenes, those that are heavily conflict driven, do work (like the release of the birds and scenes towards the end where Ophelia’s taking action).
The main saving grace of Ophelia’s Flowers is Ophelia herself, played by Meagan McDonald. She alone makes the prose work (most of the time) and she alone seems to be connected to the character and the emotions. This is probably because she also wrote Ophelia’s Flowers.
Lucas Gabiel’s Horatio, on a quest to save Ophelia, didn’t have much stage time, but was also able to connect with the material. He and McDonald had a good chemistry, making the scenes between him and Ophelia, particularly the touching ones at the end of the play, some of my favourites in the piece. I just wish they hadn’t been so few and far between.
What did you think? Did you enjoy Ophelia’s Flowers prose more than I did? What were some of your favourite moments? Join the discussion in the comments below.