When you go to see a play that already has multiple awards and sell-out success at the Sydney Theatre, you know that you probably won’t be disappointed. Gripping, powerful and beautifully poetic, The Bleeding Tree certainly does not disappoint. This minimalist production explores family abuse, moral conflict, community and vengeance; all set against the quintessential Australian outback. Using a glorious balance of morbidity and comedy, this tale of destroying a destroyer keeps you enthralled from start to finish.
The Bleeding Tree is a highly original take on an Australian murder ballad, set in the aftermath of a spontaneous and gruesome murder. As the mystery slowly unravels we discover the source of the hatred these 3 women have for the dead man, forcing the audience to contemplate issues of abuse, guilt and revenge. The heaviness of the subject matter is broken well with humour and the ability of this production to transform from comedy to horror in the blink of an eye is testament to the playwright, director and the talented actors. The horrific, gruesome imagery of decay here juxtaposed with light-hearted moments of humour, unity and love between the 3 women is an extremely effective way to keep the audience on their toes.
The production has very little in the way of props, but lack of these devices is made up for with the skillful use of lighting and music to bring tension and drama by the bucket load. The careful and creative use of space, combined with powerful, vivid imagery, allows the audience’s imagination to fill in all the gaps. It could be argued that these devices are more powerful and engaging than the physical use of props. The performances delivered by all three actors are almost flawless. The seamless flow from narration to dialogue feels like a manic revolving door of discourse, that somehow always makes sense to the audience.
This chaotic interchange also reflects the panic, guilt and unraveling sanity of our characters. It is easy to forget that there are only 3 Actors on the stage, as they skillfully switch between their main characters, secondary characters and narration. The actors take you through a gamut of emotions that feels incredibly realistic. You can really feel the fear and confliction the characters
experience as they come to terms with what they have done. Ultimately, though, the fearsome trio are defined by their strength, unity and love for each other. Defiantly not one for young children, but for those with an appreciation for quality theatre that
doesn’t rely on props or elaborate stage settings, I would definitely recommend. 4 stars