Jordan Tannahill’s dynamic Concord Floral is certainly not your run-of-the-mill teen script
The title Concord Floral comes from the location of an abandoned greenhouse in Vaughan. Tannahill was inspired by the stories the overgrown greenhouse held in its nooks and crannies. It was a party place for teens as was evident by the various detritus that littered the floor.
At the time Tannahill was partying at Concord Floral, he was also reading The Decameron, an allegory about ten youth fleeing plague-ridden Florence. He found the two places connected, and out of that came this surreal coming-of-age story. This is the third iteration of the play which has been heavily work-shopped and tweaked over the course of the past four years. His writing is moving, gritty, poetic and honest.
Tannahill captures all the awkward gore it is to be a teen—and doesn’t shirk away from the uncomfortable bits—sex, masturbation, drugs, underage drinking, cruelty, judgment. All the things we don’t want to think that our kids are doing, but often are.
The story follows two friends, Rosa Mundi (Ofa Gasesepe) and Nearly Wild (Jovana Miladinovic), who are smoking weed in the greenhouse one night and inadvertently drop a cellphone into a hole. As they go to retrieve the phone they discover the body of a teenage girl. Freaked out, they decide not to tell anyone but word soon gets out and worse, Nearly begins getting calls from the dead girl Bobbie (Jessica Munk). Their lives as well as their classmates begin to unravel until they are compelled to face their various secrets.
Erin Brubacher and Cara Spooner direct a stellar cast of teenagers, most still in high school. Their staging is creative with bleacher style seating right on the stage of the theatre. The audience is immediately transported back to high school days, watching a game or talent show in the school gymnasium. The playing space is bare, save for some chairs, and Brubacher and Spooner are able to paint such striking picture in this sparseness. Particularly moving moments are at the top of the play, when a girl stands nearly naked way up in the regular theatre seats and also when a bird which has accidentally flown into a classroom dramatically tries to break out, hurling himself against the window.
The cast of Concord Floral not only plays teens but also animals and inanimate objects. This is an ensemble piece and the cast is uniformly strong. Gasesepe, Munk, and Miladinovic were particular stand-outs with their polished and emotionally rich performances.
I highly recommend this play. You definitely won’t feel like you a watching a painful high school performance. This is a strong piece of theatre.
Concord Floral runs now through October 16. For more information and tickets visit: Canadian Stage