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Woman of Flowers

Kaite O’Reilly’s play for Forest Forge takes elements of ancient Welsh myth and splices them with something more contemporary and sinister. Rose is a young deaf woman who has no memory of where she came from. She lives a restricted life – not allowed to read the newspaper or speak to strangers – on a farm at the edge of dark forest and the men of the house tell her she was magicked into existence to care for them, that she was born of flowers and has no past. Rose is increasingly unsure about these stories and her uncertainty only grows when she meets a kind stranger in the forest.

O’Reilly’s play was written for Sophie Stone, the first deaf actor to graduate from RADA and Stone’s strong performance anchors the production. She’s almost too forceful at times – it’s hard to believe she would only now be questioning who she was and where she came from. Kirstie Davis’ touring production fully integrates sign language and surtitles into the piece; conventional dialogue scenes are interspersed with Rose’s inner thoughts, performed using a theatricalised, dance-like form of signing. But, captivating as this often is, the mythic elements of the play don’t always sit easy with the harder, nastier things at the core of this story.