Review: These Trees are Made of Blood, at Arcola Theatre
With cabaret magic, a breathtaking musical score and harrowing portrayals of ‘the Disappeared’, Amy Draper's challenging production both entertains and horrifies
22 June, 2017 — By Catherine Usher
Alexander Luttley, Anne-Marie Piazza, Rosalind Ford and Eilon Morris in These Trees Are Made Of Blood. ©helenmurray
WELCOMING us into the Arcola’s Coup Coup Club (the Ps are silent, we’re informed), the audience is greeted with enchanting songs and lively chatter.
Alexander Luttley as Wing Commander Campos is a charming “chorus girl”. Clad in fishnets and a black basque, he is forever giving the audience an eyeful of his thong-covered bottom – it takes quite a bit of getting used to.
Rob Castell has a lot of charisma as the General and he brings the club setting to the foreground as he meets and greets audience members on the front row, while Neil Kelso as Sub Lieutenant Suarez, gives everyone a very convincing flavour of cabaret magic.
To say too much about how the story progresses would ruin the continual surprises, but it’s safe to say that the Coup Coup Club’s party atmosphere doesn’t last long.
Neil Kelso as Sub Lieutenant Suarez. ©helenmurray
The musical score throughout, is breathtaking.
Anne-Marie Piazza has a stunning voice that fills the club setting with her soaring despair.
Josh Sneesby, Rosalind Ford and Eilon Morris provide a distinctive and colourful accompaniment to proceedings.
Ultimately the show does belong to the General, who starts off as a charming emcee, but then descends into unimaginable depravity.
Combining such a serious issue as ‘the Disappeared’ with a cabaret setting is a risky prospect, but the contrast between the jollity and the harrowing scenes does heighten the audience’s emotional response.
These Trees Are Made Of Blood, directed with passion by Amy Draper, won’t be to everyone’s taste, but the production will hit a nerve with many.
Viewers can’t help but be entertained and horrified in equal measure.
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