STAGE REVIEW: Tree @ Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle (25.01.22) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Matt Jamie

Tree is a two-hander play that tells the tale of a relationship between a woman abandoned as a child and her lifelong relationship with an about to be destroyed tree is not only reflective but searingly sad.

An impassioned undertaking from writers Gary Kitching and Steve Byron who are collectively known as The Worriers, this insightful tour de force immaculately encapsulates

the contemplative issues of loss and grief; loneliness; fake news; homelessness; borderline dementia and environmental issues.

Accomplished North East actors Judi Earl and Jacqueline Phillips deliver formidable performances. Philips’ sympathetic and commendable portrayal of fantasist Rowan is a disturbing watch but is balanced by the compelling calm of Judy Earl’s Hazel who delivers a majestic performance.

Rowan’s wild yarns of delusional grandeur detail her imagined life as a marketing executive, author of an international best-seller and being photographed with Tom Hanks; there are even tales of shape-shifting lizards within the Royal family which are in stark contrast to the same character rummaging through a plastic carrier bag full of rubbish whilst eating a few paltry sandwiches. A contemplative consideration for media savvy audiences.

Hazel meanwhile ruminates via the medium of storytelling bringing a rationality to Rowan’s ramblings with resolute pensiveness as well as a reminder of her painful past.

Significant song choices include Everything’s Coming up Roses and Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now with each effectively addressing Rowan’s megalomania and fragility of character. Congruous with Rowan, Joni Mitchell also experienced emotional turbulence in her younger life, including giving birth to a daughter whom she abandoned, just as Rowan’s mother had once abandoned her too which evidences the writers’ tender tackling of the trending and troublesome issues facing society today.

From an omnipresent self-obsessed social media brimming with conspiracy theories and virulent insecurities, to an innate desire for stability, belonging and love, Tree leaves us feeling that everyone’s communicating but no one is listening.

Tree is at Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle until Saturday 12th February

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