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Storm in a Flower Vase - Arts Theatre

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

ALAN Strachan will direct Anton Burge’s Storm in a Flower Vase, a vivid portrait of the iconic floral designer Constance Spry, which runs at the Arts Theatre from September 20 (previews from September 13) to October 12, 2013.

Spry is best known as a society florist and best-selling cookery writer who popularised a do-it-yourself approach to home-making in mid 20th Century Britain.

The high society florist of choice, Spry styled two royal weddings and the Queen’s coronation and invented the dish, Coronation Chicken.

Heralded as a woman ahead of her time, she changed the lives of ordinary people by showing that with a little imagination homes could be transformed with little money. A prolific social reformer, hygienist and teacher, Spry’s profound influence on design and the home is still felt today.

Anton Burge’s new play is a sensitive look at this pioneering spirit, who behind the flamboyant glamour associated with names such as Cecil Beaton and Syrie Maugham, lay a complex and unconventional woman and a life of marital discord, affairs and heartache.

Storm in a Flower Vase takes its inspiration from The Surprising Life of Constance Spry by Sue Shepherd (published by Pan Books).

Storm in A Flower Vase follows playwright Anton Burge’s acclaimed play Bette and Joan, also produced by Ann Pinnington, which starred Greta Scacchi and Anita Dobson and played at the Arts Theatre in 2011. His other writing credits include A Life Lived in Melodrama, Portraying Elizabeth, G&I – Going into Battle with Gertrude Lawrence, Fanny’s Burning and Lady Mosley’s Suite.

Penny Downie, who plays Constance, is joined in the cast by Carolyn Backhouse as Gluck, Sally George as Val Pirie, Sheila Ruskin as Rosemary, Carol Royle as Syrie and Christopher Ravenscroft as Shav.

Presented by Ann Pinnington Productions in association with Mig Kimpton, Storm in a Flower Vase is designed by Morgan Large, with lighting by James Whiteside and sound by Mark Dunne.

Tickets: Preview performances: £17, £27.50, £29.50. Premium Ticket (including complimentary programme) £37.50; Stalls £32.50, £29.50, £20; Circle £32.50, £20. All are available from the box office on 020 7836 8463 or online at

Times: Tuesday to Saturday at 7:30pm; Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm.