Search

Thes Trees Are Made of Blood, Arcola, review: ‘A moving, vivid tribute to the “disappeared”’

PUBLISHED: 08:00 29 June 2017

These Trees are Made of Blood. Picture: Helen Murray

These Trees are Made of Blood. Picture: Helen Murray

© Copyright Helen Murray 2017

Inspired by the peaceful protests by Argentinean mothers over the fate of the “disappeared” Amy Draper brings her unique blend of political cabaret, woven around an intimate family narrative

Inspired by the peaceful protests by Argentinean mothers over the fate of the “disappeared” - causalities during the 7-year military junta that replaced Isabel Peron in 1976 – director Amy Draper brings her unique blend of political cabaret, a burlesque woven around an intimate family narrative, to the hunkered-down, open-brick Arcola stage.

First seen at the Southwark Playhouse, These Trees Are Made of Blood is a moving, vivid tribute to the dead.

Where this production excels is the way Draper plays on the cabaret metaphor to lift the political dimension. With pretty, multicolored lights framing the elevated 4-piece band and Moulin Rouge inspired set featuring the fictitious club’s name - the Coup Coup (or cuckoo; the wordplay is made a tad too often) – the show is not so much immersive (as advertised), as interactive.

Opening with the razzle-dazzle Wing Commander Campos (charismatic Alexander Luttley, dressed to thrill in fishnets and military nipple tassels) dancing a malevolent introductory number and Rob Castell as the grotesquely avuncular General, acting as an MC in a Brechtian mould with a smarmy stand-up routine, the idea of despots as manipulative theatrical players and audience members as willing puppets, works for the main part.

It becomes a little strained during Lieutenant Suarez’s (Neil Kelson - impressively sinister) over-long mind reading act.

Audience members who sit at bar tables scattered about closest to the stage are invited to be bamboozled by the politician-performers and their smiles barely conceal their bite. A highlight is the deeply troubling spiked fan dance routine performed by Luttley as real photos of the disappeared pile up behind him. It’s the shift into the naturalistic story that doesn’t quite work, as the writing is heavy-handed: Ana (Charlotte Worthing) goes missing and her Mother (Ellen O Grady) will not be duped by the Kafka-esque beaurocracy of the junta.

The woozy Latino-soaked songs, written by Darren Clark, are well performed though the cast is quintessentially British and the vibe is ultimately not that authentic. Still, its subject matter deserves every attention and the cast commit to the task with unflinching vitality.

Caroline David

These Trees Are Made Of Blood

Arcola Theatre

«««¶¶

These Trees are Made of Blood. Picture: Helen Murray

Details

Latest Islington Entertainment Stories

Yesterday, 15:44

Anyone missing out on Yard Sale’s World Cup special is scoring an own goal.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The World Cup kicks off tonight. That means two things: a month of seriously dull football matches which remind you why international football isn’t very good, and restaurateurs flogging World Cup-themed burgers.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

A topical revival of unsung expressionist play inspired by the real life case of Ruth Snyder who killed her abusive husband

Monday, June 11, 2018

A tender and intimate revival of Brian Friel’s epic tale of love and language in rural 1830s Ireland

PROMOTED CONTENT

Fostering older teenagers means giving them the skills for life as an adult. Here, a supportive lodgings carer with Islington Council and young adult who has left care share their stories

Newsletter Sign Up

Islington Gazette twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read entertainment

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Islington Gazette
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now