I Hope Your Flowers Bloom

I Hope Your Flowers Bloom, written and performed by Raymond Wilson and produced by All Those Figs, is an expert fringe show. Found somewhat unexpectedly at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, this one-man show fits the mold perfectly, and manages to transcend it to work on the level of both performance and ideas.

Wilson’s self-aware sincerity carries the day

Described as “semi-autobiographical”, I Hope Your Flowers Bloom follows Raymond through a friendship that blossomed during the COVID lockdowns and wove together his ideas and anxieties of what relationships should be with his pre-existing love of plants and the natural world, cut off from him by the pandemic. Increasingly depressed and self-loathing by his confinement to his mother’s Glasgow council flat without access to a car, Raymond (the character) latches on to Flo, a loose university connection who takes to the road in a renovated van to ride out the lockdowns.

As the two grow closer, the ambiguity of an intimate friendship becomes something he desperately wants to resolve into a more easily understood romantic relationship.

Wilson’s script effortlessly jumps backwards and forwards in time, doling out plot details with perfect pacing. His restrained but impressive character and accent work adds colour without distracting. His love of nature lends urgency and relevance to the botanical information woven into the story. His vocal performance is impeccable, preserving both his native Glaswegian accent and legibility to a mixed audience. And, without preaching or taking undue credit for grand insights, he is able to tell the story of his own personal growth.

Raymond’s relationship with Flo is mired in a desperation to categorize, taxonomize, both the natural world around them and the relationship itself. He can’t separate his emotional attachment to her from his desire to escape his life. His insecurity in his body controls him. After the relationship ends, he backslides into depression. There’s no magical solution. Wilson, without speculating or assuming exactly how auto-biographical ‘Raymond’ is, has clearly not only done the work to recover from this relationship, but to really understand the root of his wrong-headedness. Neither nature nor people can be completely captured in ‘facts’ or be completely knowable, the outdoors don’t belong to a certain kind of person, and instrumentalizing someone, even unconsciously, is not a solid basis for any kind of relationship. More impressively, Wilson doesn’t need to spell most of this out. The show is about what happened, not how far he’s come – which turns out to be the best way to demonstrate that.

Especially for the Storytelling Centre, the lighting and set felt both over and under-designed. Wilson’s performance was powerful enough to define times and spaces without the assistance of often heavy-handed lighting cues, and the ten stage cubes on stage with botanical imagery didn’t add enough to justify them. Nevertheless, they didn’t seriously detract either.

I Hope Your Flowers Bloom ends on a note that could be saccharine, but ultimately Wilson’s self-aware sincerity carries the day. I left uplifted, reminded that the healing available in the natural world should be available to all of us. See this show, and consider leaving yourself an hour or two afterwards to turn left out of the Storytelling Centre, down to Holyrood Park, experiencing it for yourself.

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Reviews by Alex Bailey Dillon

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The Blurb

Flitting between romantic obsession and botanical description, this semi-autobiographical piece by Raymond Wilson offers a raw, moving and genuinely humorous exploration of healthy masculinity, self-worth and working-class access to nature. Through his friendship with Flo and her modern nomadic lifestyle, Raymond attempts to escape the greyness of the Glasgow scheme into Scotland's natural world, with some unflinching self-reflection along the way. Directed by Fiona Mackinnon. Part of the Made in Scotland Showcase. Developed through the Village Storytelling Festival 2022. 'Whimsically superb blending of spoken word and comedy' **** (CorrBlimey.uk). MadeInScotlandShowcase.com

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