When you first hear about this new musical, it sounds cute but not exactly the most riveting of topics. Based on the novel Mrs Harris Goes To Paris by Paul Gallico, Flowers for Mrs Harris is about a woman who sees a Dior dress and decides that she must have one. That is essentially a very barebones synopsis. But, oh my goodness, it is so much more than that! It’s funny, moving and gives you hope – all dreams are achievable. Mrs Harris is a cleaning woman in post-Second World War, austerity era London who, after seeing a Dior dress in one of her clients’ homes, embarks on a quest to own one herself. She saves up enough money, after a few mishaps, to fly to Paris and purchase one. By the sheer force and wit of her personality, she makes a difference not only within her own life, but the various lives of others. After years of feeling alone after she is left widowed after the First World War, she realises that she is not quite so lonely after all. It is a sentimental fairytale of never giving up hope and not letting life’s obstacles stand in your way. Through hard work and a good heart, Mrs Harris achieves her dream. Seriously, there was not a dry eye in the house by the end! I even shed a few tears myself!
It is an outstanding production. Writer Rachel Wagstaff and composer/lyricist Richard Taylor bring together Mrs Harris’ quest with humour and heart in a whirlwind of emotions. Seriously, there are a lot of feels in this production! Make sure you take your tissues. The music is stirring and fits with the overall production beautifully. There are never songs just for the sake of them; they always bring something to the action on stage and move along the production succinctly. The actors themselves are all brilliant and embody their roles so so well! The casting is perfect and this production seemed to have been made for them – much like a Dior dress! I bet the costume department had a whale of a time with all those dresses! I was very jealous of the actors who got to wear some very gorgeous Dior dresses – would have liked to have worn a few myself! The revolving stage allows for quick and slick set changes which never overpower the action on stage. It looks stunning as well. By the end, the stage is literally alive with colour as Mrs Harris learns of the good she has done. As Daniel Evan’s final production as artistic director of the Crucible, he certainly goes out with a standing ovation.
If you want to see a fairy tale, plenty of gorgeous dresses or just to have a good cry, then seriously, go see this play!
- By Rachel Wagstaff and Richard Taylor
- Director: Daniel Evans
- Cast includes: Claire Burt, Anna-Jane Casey, Mark Meadows
- Crucible Theatre, Sheffield
- Until 4 June 2016
- Review by Nicola Wallace
- 26 May 2016