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Ascerbicly Barbed Roses

May 11, 2017

ARTIFICIAL_FLOWERS_Wed_555Lie back on the couch and tell him your darkest truth… and he’ll still bite you. Phelix (Jason Britt) isn’t a therapist, not with the way he toys with Maeve (Emily Charouhas) using his jovially ascerbic wit and remorseless sociopathic jabs. Damn if Phelix doesn’t make Artifical Flowers feel like a good session of therapy, until it’s not good for you… or is it.

A thrilling ride from its slow sensual beginning to an emotional thunk, “damn”, the denouement hammering home with weight felt pressing upon the air itself.ArtificialFlowers@ZJU_PHOTO-2

Carefully crafted dialogue sets you at ease drawing you in alongside Maeve, until the playful wit turns sharp and cuts at you. Artificial Flowers feels like every bad relationship you’ve (I’ve) ever had; Phelix has enough redeeming traits to keep Maeve coming back, Artificial Flowers keeps pulling you in deeper and deeper. Then it all turns pear shaped, Phelix hurts Maeve in word or deed, Artificial Flowers punctures and scratches at you with powerful emotions and painful resonance echoing forth from Emily’s portrayal of Maeve. The whole structure of Artificial Flowers is set up like the relationship it portrays; there is an ebb and flow to the emotional current. You’re set at ease then taken high or low, back to a faux neutral before you can catch your breath you’re processing the next witty line, the next emotional swing from powerful portrayals of deeply real characters.

ArtificialFlowers@ZJU_PHOTO-1I said above that Artificial Flowers feels like a good session of therapy, and that the emotional structure is similar to an abusive relationship. There is a duality to that, and the good comes from the direction of the ebb and flow. Whatever conclusions you may draw from artificial flowers, you can draw because you were led to them organically. The give and take of Artificial Flowers while having its highs and lows emotionally, cognitively AF drew you ever closer to your personal conclusion. The evidence was presented and you were allowed to sway back and forth seeing more and more with each cycle, each turn of the wheel. I say the conclusions are personal, because theatre is complex and personal; more so Artificial Flowers is, complex and personal, an obsidian black mirror ringed in thorny vines held to the hearts of every fucked up, and not so fucked up, member of the audience.

Ragged, exhausted, introspective, you’re left feeling after Artificial Flowers. Not simply a any descriptive flowery adjectives I can pull from the aether, Artificial Flowers simply leaves you feeling, it’s up to you what those feelings are.


Artificial Flowers (Written & Directed by Emily Charouhas w/ Brandon Slezak co-directing) ran at Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre in North Hollywood.

For more information on future productions from ZJU visit

All Photos: Zombie Joe’s Underground

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