3 Min Read

Gripping, Political and Complex: The Bleeding Tree

Spoiler: They kill the dad
That’s not really a spoiler it’s like the first line in the play.

From the moment the usher opens the theatre door, Ian Michael’s production of The Bleeding Tree by Angus Cereni demands your attention. A tremendous clap of thunder lures us into the theatre as we creep to our seats from behind the elevated stage of cross-hatching.

Cereni’s play is gripping, political and complex. The story is narrated by a chorus of three performers who deftly deliver Cereni’s rich and lyrical text. This work is a prime example of confidence and skill (all a quality piece of theatre needs to succeed).

The Bleeding Tree. Photography by Tashi Hall

All areas of production are laser-focused in their contribution to the story and work in harmony to immerse the audience in the grizzly events of the tale. Not the least of which is Rachel Dease’s sound design. From the buzzing of flies to the ever-steady plucking of heartstrings Dease expertly creates a sonic experience that works alongside the actors in creating a thick air of anticipation in the theatre.

The Bleeding Tree. Photography by Tashi Hall

The performers themselves are all brilliant. Working as a tight chorus to narrate and re-live the events of the play all three performances are energetic, playful and precise. Karla Hart is fantastic as Mum. Maybe it’s the man-hating feminist within me, or the wide-spread culture of violence against women… maybe it’s Hart’s subtle yet alluring performance or a combination of all three. Whatever it was I was rooting for her. Her twisted delight was my delight.

Ebony McGuire is a force to be reckoned with in this play. She shows great versatility and dynamic as a performer and I could not take my eyes off her.

That said, Abbie-Lee Lewis shines. The younger of the trio, Lewis is expressive and explosive on stage. She brings earnest innocence to her character while not shying away from her violent, rage-fueled motivations

The Bleeding Tree. Photography by Tashi Hall

Talent aside, Ian Michael’s casting is poignant. His production speaks to the staggering statistics of violence against First Nations women throughout Australia’s history. In the theatre, we are sucked into the story and unable to look away.

However, I couldn’t help but identify myself in the neighbours who all confess to knowing about the plight of the trio despite not showing up for them until now. Michael’s direction takes The Bleeding Tree to confronting new heights- a total privilege for audiences of The Blue Room Theatre’s intimate studio space.

The Bleeding Tree is on now until Dec 11 at The Blue Room Theatre.