Little y and First Feet Collective present the Australian debut of The Flower that Fell from the Sky by French playwright Heloise Wilson. This imaginative and loose adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters explores themes of self-actualisation and the reclamation of purpose through the offbeat adventures of Olga (Dylan Dorotich), Andrei (Samuel Addison) and Macha (Mischa Ipp).
Olga – whose sense of smell has disappeared – grapples with the possibility of never achieving her dreams. Her sister, Macha, must rise above fear to see the world from a bird’s eye perspective. Andrei, younger than his siblings, doesn’t remember a non-broken world. He feels the anxiety of powerlessness, combined with a relentless drive to repair whatever he can.
Macha finds a flower that has fallen from the sky with the multicoloured rain. The blue myosotis, otherwise known as a forget-me-not, provides a spark of colour in the ever-present smog, and serves as a potent reminder of the characters’ shared history. In an attempt to connect Olga to a core olfactory memory, the siblings decide to embark upon an arduous journey to the home in which they learned to grow roots.
Surreal moments abound, increasing in absurdity as the play progresses. Imaginary book-women and talking animals materialise, casually conversing and demanding cups of tea. Rounds of harmonic singing suspend the audience in a momentary dreamscape. Places and objects become conduits for memory and extensions of mind.
The simplicity of the set design enables the audience to project their own associations onto every scene, a thematically relevant comment on the subjectivity of perception. Milk crates litter the stage against a backdrop of packing boxes, stacked like a silver cityscape. These milk crates magically transform into train seats, mountain peaks, hot-air balloons and the bones of nostalgic memories. Eventually, the silver-box cityscape shifts to reveal tiny houses, lit from within.
Props are sparse – a sheet of newspaper, a cup, a telephone and an overhead projector. Projections, including childhood photographs and ancient wallpaper, add to the aesthetic of implied intangibility. At one point, a sheet becomes a tent, the torchlit face of which creates silhouettes to tell the story of a story, convey the memory of a memory and underline the constancy of change.
Reduced olfactory function may sound like a flimsy premise for a play, but the multilayered symbolism it facilitates is emotionally insightful and contemporarily resonant. The emphasised correlations between smell and memory highlight the ways in which an absence of personal history can erode a sense of belonging and subvert one’s certainty of purpose.
The connectedness of moments, the shifting of blame and the importance of connection take centre stage in this profoundly whimsical play. The Flower that Fell from the Sky is aimed at audience members aged 12 and above, and reminds audiences young and old that, although it takes time for growth to become evident, nothing will change without the planting of a seed.
The Flower that Fell from the Sky
The Blue Room Theatre, WA
Presented by Feet First Collective and Little y
Producer, Director and Movement Coach: Teresa Izzard
Associate Producer: Mischa Ipp
Designer: Samuel Addison
Sound Designer and Operator: Lauren Beeton
Lighting Designer: Dylan Dorotich
Vocal Performance Coach: Donald Woodburn
Stage Manager: Sally Clune
Composer: Regan Hicks
Photographer, Videographer, and Graphic Design: John Congear
Cast: Samuel Addison, Mischa Ipp, Dylan Dorotich
The Flower that Fell From the Sky was performed from 6-10 December 2022