The Just Price of Flowers is a play about the 2008 financial collapse, set in 17th Century Netherlands.
Tulips were imported into Europe in the early 17th Century at a time when merchants were generating wealth through trade. Collecting exotic items was a fashion. A passion developed for tulips, their price rose rapidly and created the possibility of making profit through speculative buying.
For a brief time certain tulip bulbs were sold for prices equivalent to those of a house, or three years of a craftsman's wage.
In 1637 this financial bubble burst.
Using Tulipmania as its inspiration, The Just Price of Flowers finds the Van Leasings buying a tulip from Van Eek, using money borrowed from Van Hire. It follows them as they chase their dream of wealth through the growing complexities of futures trading, credit ratings, sub-primes, credit default swaps, and the horror of short selling.
This is a simple, austerity production, based on real events, explains the complexities of high finance with humour, in a straightforward way. There is also heartbreak, two songs and an origami peacock.
photo: Graeme Braidwood, courtesy Stan's Cafe