The Girl Who Cut Flowers was, strictly speaking, the last horse-drawn show that we undertook – in Ireland. Horse-drawn touring was, we reckoned, getting too dangerous on English roads; sooner or later somebody would get hurt. It toured widely in Britain too, but largely using conventional van transport. It was also the first show in which Alison Duddle worked with me to develop the script. She also directed one of the main sections of the show. The show was inspired by the nursery rhyme drawings and paintings of the Portuguese artist Paula Rego. It was also notable for being performed in a small and claustrophobic set with a highly forced perspective. It was a fairly dark show, but nevertheless turned out to be very popular. Alison made the majority of the female masks, and I made the male characters and the animals. Somehow that particular division of labour became our habit over the next decade.
The story starts with a dreamlike parade of half-glimpsed nursery rhyme characters, and a bundle is placed in the dream-space. A young Girl struggles out of the bundle, but she finds that she’s trapped in a room. Eventually she gives up and in despair she curls up in the dark. Once she’s asleep a grotesque goat leans through a window into the room; he steals her soul then leaves, disappearing into a dark Forest. When the Girl awakes she finds that the door can be easily opened. She too sets off into the same Forest. The goat re-appears throughout the story – slowly and gradually turning into a young man. We follow the Girl’s escape and journey from the room, moving from masked performance to puppetry, and back.
THE GIRL WHO CUT FLOWERS: BOB FRITH/ALISON DUDDLE (dir), JENNY BRENT, NICKY FEARN, STEFF RYAN, CHRIS DAVIES (m),