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Monday, September 20, 2010


Review by Margaret von Klemperer of production at Hilton Festival 2010. (Courtesy of The Witness)

Set in 1960s South Africa - the era of radio quiz games (no reality TV in those days), speeches by Hendrik Verwoerd, and struggles to make ends meet - Tree Boy is the story of Benjamin Sprout and his father, left sad and hopeless after the death of Benjamin’s mother. In the forlorn expectation of a new start, they move from the country to the urban wasteland of a mining town. Father (Michael Gritten) drinks and comes up with impossible schemes while Benjamin (the young Luc Haasbroek) meets and befriends the strange loner, Archie, who owns and cherishes the only green lung the town can provide.

Ron Smerczak is excellent as the enigmatic Archie, a vigorous counterpoint to the more surreal shadow play and stylised scenes between Benjamin and his father as their world moves through tragedy to hope and determination. I would like to see the middle part of the play tightened up a little: there is a point where the narrative drive flags a little, but Tree Boy is still a moving story and a visual feast. - Margaret von Klemperer

”Tree Boy” is scripted and designed by Neil Coppin with direction by Libby Allen.