A look at the women of one family through the generations and the anxieties of motherhood that each faces, Ghost of the Tree, by Charles Robertson, is inventively written although it doesn’t leave much of a lasting impression.
Starting in the present, with a homeless and pregnant teenaged girl who returns to her grandmother’s abandoned century home hoping to find anyone to help her, one performer plays 7 generations of women, going back in time – we meet the pregnant girl’s hippie-esque mother, whose own perfect ‘50s housewife mother attempted suicide, on and on until eventually we meet the original lady of the house sometime in the late 1800s. Each generation is preceded by its successive one so we hear about certain characters before meeting them – this script is certainly very well structured, but most of the monologues that make up this show seem to go on a little longer than really necessary.
The staging is original as well, with the one performer in black with period-appropriate red accent pieces for each character. The inclusion of a live clarinet player on stage for the transitions is a nice touch – there’s no real need for it, but live music makes for a much more intimate experience than pre-recorded and the tunes are also selected for historical relevance. Though this is effectively a one-woman show, another performer (I’m unsure of performer names, there was no program and the postcard doesn’t specify) helps with costume changes and provides the occasional additional voice – again, there’s no real need and I’m sure the extra performer could be cut without changing much. The actress who plays the characters does an admirable job finding a different voice and physicalization for each woman, changing accents when relevant.
While this show features much that works, I’m unsure of what you’re supposed to take away from it – that motherhood and being married has never been easy? How varied one family can be, if you go back far enough? The extinction of a family? These are all possibilities, but Ghost of the Tree doesn’t choose.
Ghost of the Tree
Downes Productions in association with Bottle Tree Productions
Written by Charles Robertson
Performed by Hannah Smith, Sasha French, Darrell Bryan
Running Time: 60 minutes
Playing at ODD Box
Wednesday June 24 10:00 pm
Friday June 26 8:30 pm
Saturday June 27 10:30 pm