Review These Trees are Made of Blood Theatre Bench Southwark Playhouse

Greg Barnett as The General in These Trees are Made of Blood. Photo Credit Darren Bell

My first time at the Southwark Playhouse, I was pleasantly surprised by the kitsch, unusual look of the place yet it’s homely feel. By spending time in this atmosphere, entering the performance space was a complete change of juxtaposition.

We entered a small and quaint little mismatched cabaret club. Music bellowed from the live band on stage and we were invited to sit around and in-between the action, such as one would at a club such as this.

The performance started before we even entered – the band already in full swing, cabaret acts performing in between the chairs and tables, the audience manoeuvring themselves throughout this world.

The narrative of this production was of the missing children in Argentina during the 1970’s and 80’s of which was the fault of the corrupt government but involving the viewpoint’s of both the corrupt and of the family’s that lost their loved ones.

For such a political and tough historical story, it was such an interesting take to create a cabaret club. The timeline of one mother and daughter and what the government had done to them was experienced through song, burlesque, magic and so on. Firstly, this being very comical, the realisation of the reality behind these songs and performances slowly became apparent and harder to find entertaining in the sense that normal cabaret aims to achieve.

By bringing events, both physically and vocally, we were forced to applaud these acts despite it feeling wrong to – the talk of murder, disappearance and rape; the heartache that the mother’s were feeling; the lies and the deceit of the government, all very hard topics to believe happened let alone congratulate as we would a poignant or entertaining piece of performance. This idea was perfect – to feel the shame and the sadness of this truth and to be forced as these victims possibly were was very cleverly executed.

Alexander Luttley in These Trees Are Made of Blood. Photo Credit Darren Bell

The performers themselves threw every skill into this production. Not a moment was lost and an evidence of trust within this hard-hitting story was present. By ending it such a heartbreaking way, showing us images of those missing and speaking through song about the sorrow that women who march still to this day for their loved ones feel, not only were there tears in the audience, but the tears and pain in the actors faces who could be congratulated as astonishing acting. However, it is my belief that these moments were more small glimpses into the feelings of the performers themselves. Training says that moments like this can destroy what pretence has been created, but this only brought more to the performance in showing how dedicated and moved they were for the narrative, and much respect gained for all those involved in the entire performance.

What makes this performance even more special is the abundance of Welsh performers and creatives. Ranging from Cardiff, to Pontypool and Swansea, it’s a continued selection of evidence the sheer talent that this country produces – and bringing this to London – a huge ocean of theatre – to see it striving as well as it has, in such a perfect location, brings much pride to myself as the London Correspondent for Young Critics Wales knowing how talented Welsh artists can be.

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