Monday, 23 March 2015

Review: These Trees are Made of Blood at the Southwark Playhouse

These Trees are Made of Blood
Southwark Playhouse (The Little)
Reviewed on Friday 20th March 2015

After watching the publicity video for These Trees are Made of Blood by Amy Draper, Paul Jenkins and Darren Clarke, I was anticipating an evening of unusual and immersive theatre… and I was not disappointed. 

The pre-show began around small tables in a smoky Argentinian cabaret bar in the seventies. The audience enjoyed an electrifying atmosphere created by superb storytellers Elion Morris, Rachel Dawson, Josh Sneeby and Anne-Marie Piazza as the exquisite band/ensemble who supported the action throughout the evening. People were drinking, socialising, having a good time; while the actors circulated and genuinely added to the wonderful world of the play.

The show began with three bizarre performances in close succession and the audience desperately tried to a grasp what on earth was going to. Charming Greg Barnett introduced himself and took command of the evening with his terrible one liners and guided the earnest audience into the show.

It took time for me to adjust to the piece’s quirky style; although it took me a while to settle, I eventually became drawn in. Certain moments dragged a little, some tweaking and fine tuning would greatly improve the flow of the evening.

Alexander Luttley had a sparkle in his eye throughout the show and a true sense of play that was wonderful to watch. There were moments of Charlie Chaplin and Rowan Atkinson that really shone through in his performance. Neil Kelso also delivered a cheeky loveable performance as the Cabaret Artist. 

Barnett strutted back on stage and started the dreaded ‘let’s bring the house lights up and humiliate the audience’ section, the energy in the room dropped and the majority of people started fidgeting and feeling uncomfortable. Then, with a massive twist in the plot, the story of the tens of thousands of children that disappeared during the dirty war began to unravel.

The evening started in a seductive environment that used mind tricks, high kicks and illusion to pull the audience into this powerful story, with the assistance of a couple of perfectly pitched surprises in the plot, we see a mother's struggle to get to the bottom of the curious disappearance of her daughter Ana. 

The stakes were a little bit underplayed at the peak of the play leaving some moments feeling a little forced at the end. What began as a fun, chaotic cabaret progressed into a sadistic, high energy journey around a really dark chapter of history. These Trees are Made of Blood is an immersive and shocking piece. Expect the unexpected. 

Reviewed by Joanne Hewes

These Trees are Made of Blood runs at the Southwark Playhouse until Saturday 11th April 2015.
Please visit for further information and tickets.

Photo Credit: Darren Bell

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