Every so often one finds a work of artistry in a small theater that you wished the entire city would find and see. This is the case of the show “Cut Flowers” now playing at the Karamu House’s Arena Theatre through November 17, 2013. The Arena Theater is an intimate theater that can hold an audience of just under 100 and is the perfect size for this production.
“Cut Flowers is written by Gavin Lawrence and directed by Terrence Spivey and is a close and personal look at men and what happens when they work in close quarters day after day but primarily it is a play about respect. It deals with the respect that we have for ourselves, for our families and loved ones, our relations, our co-workers, our own race as well as people of different ethnicity and the general population at large.
As the character Mark points out “Each flower that comes in has to be cut in order to extend its life. Same thing happens all the time in life with people”.
Kyle, Brian, Kevin, Ronnie, Paul and Mark are six black men who work in the back room of an upscale flower shop in Washington DC. Day after day they cut flowers, arrange flowers, and deliver flowers for their “rich white boss” to the “rich white clientele” while they can barely make ends meet.
Kyle (Kenny Parker) is the senior member of the group having worked there for twelve years. He is up for promotion to “Head Flower Buyer” and has even bought a house close to the shop in the better part of town. Brian (Michael May) is a young man with a secret troubled past who was given his break by Kyle and is trying to hold his life together for his wife and child. Kevin (Dyrell Barnett) is the college graduate and militant who has yet to discover his place. Ronnie (Prophet Seay) has two children and one on the way but this does not stop him from playing the field. Paul (Greg White) is a functioning alcoholic who thinks that his drinking is not noticed. Mark (Anthony Brown) is a battered husband who will suffer the beatings his wife gives him in order to stay close to his little girl. Rhonda (Tonya Broach) is the telephone receptionist who tries to keep the back room under control.
The set is carefully constructed and looks one hundred percent authentic. You are tempted to punch in and get to work. The area is functional and contains a walk-in cooler, two work tables, shelving with various flower related items and on the far right, Kyle’s work station table where he directs the flow of work from.
As the play progresses, certain secret clues concerning each of the men’s lives is revealed until you have a pretty good idea as to what each one is all about. The character development is smooth, even and unhurried and you begin to develop empathy towards each man as the production hits the intermission in mid stride. By this time you truly care about the characters and want to stick around and see what will happen. It is after the intermission that things get heated.
Kyle is turned down for his promotion, Brian is caught stealing, Kevin is brought to task for not doing anything constructive with his life, Ronnie’s wife looses the baby, Paul shows up from delivering flowers drunk and Mark tries and fails to assert himself with his wife. The action develops into a pot boiler finale that you will have to see in order to appreciate.
Prude Alert: There is an alphabet of words that fly at random throughout this work as well as sexual innuendos. There is the F word and N word as well as a whole slew of other letters but the usage is natural and off handed. It is what one would expect from a group of men who work out of the eye of the public.
Shooting From The Lip (My Last Words): Karamu House’s production of Cut Flowers is a true gem of accomplishment. It is well acted from an excellent script and has a strong message. I highly recommend it to all.
For theater tickets visit our website at www.karamuhouse.org or call 216-795-7077