“Combining pathos, humour, irony and lyricism, Ghost of the Tree is an ingeniously conceived, poignant, engaging and thoroughly entertaining meditation on time, motherhood and the choices that shape our lives – and the lives of those that succeed us.”
Should you see it?
Ghost of the Tree is a series of six individual scenes connected by genetics and themes of motherhood. The first scene starts off with a young woman in roughly the present day. Having been living on the street, she’s returned to inherit her family home following the death of her mother. Each subsequent scene jumps back in time one generation so as to be about the mother of the character in the scene before.
The play is at times touching and heartbreaking. It beautifully travels back in time with each scene, keeping all the action framed around the house and the tree itself — dead in the most recent scene, newly planted in the earliest scene.
Effectively a one-woman show, Hannah Smith brings some of the hands down best acting I’ve seen this year (not just at Fringe). Smith blew me away, playing the six soon-to-be mothers, each as distinct and having different energies to them as could be. She brings each of them to life so completely and with such intensity that you need to remind yourself that they are all being played by the same actress and there isn’t a moment where I didn’t believe she was every one of them. The audience was transfixed on Smith from beginning to end.
Smith is joined on stage by Sasha French and Darrell Bryan. French mainly acts as the ever-present ethereal mother. She has few lines but does a great job making her presence felt when needed and fading into the background when not. Bryan primarily provides live musical accompaniment to the show, which is another delightful touch.
Of other note is the simple yet effective design of the production, keeping Smith dressed in simple black and using one red costume item to represent each different woman.
This is some truly great theatre and the kind of play I’d love to see out on a main stage.
But that’s just my opinion and I’d love to know what you think. What did you think of Ghost of the Tree? Which of the scenes struck you the most? Join the discussion in the comments below.