By Hilary Bell, based on the book by Shaun Tan. Music by Greta Gertler-Gold. National Theatre of Parramatta. Lennox Theatre, Riverside Theatres. October 19 – 28, 2017.
The National Theatre of Parramatta brings another new piece of homegrown theatre to the Riverside – and Australian – stage. Based on the book by artist Shaun Tan, The Red Tree has an appeal that is insightful and universal.
The detail in Shaun Tan’s drawings – and the fragments of sentences – beg children to ask questions, some that are hard to answer. The Red Tree is no exception: a nameless young girl passes, in her imagination, through many dark moments, ultimately finding some hope in the form of a vivid red tree. “The red tree”Tanwrote, “may bloom, but it will also die, so nothing is absolute or definite; there needs to be an accurate reflection of real life, as something that is continuously in search of resolution.”
In bringing the book to the stage,Hilary Bell has adapted its messages into a musical theatre narrative. “In our interpretation, the girl, whom we have called Ava, decides she’s not going to leave her room, and while she travels through the book’s fabulous landscapes, these are manifestations of how she feels, rather than actual locations.”
Bell’s sensitive lyrics have been beautifully set to music by Greta Gertler-Gold. She and musicians Ben Fink and Bonnie Stewart are an intricate part of this production, accompanying Ava on her journey, echoing her fears but encouraging her to overcome them. The music is catchy, foot-tapping one moment, just a little scary the next,……