The Bleeding Tree
Rating: ★★★★★
Venue: Southwark Playhouse, London
Cast: Elizabeth Dulau, Mariah Gale and Alexandra Jensen

In a small town with a big sky, a gunshot rings out. Three women stand over the body of a man. Rumours say he was drunk when he left the bar. Maybe he fell over and pissed himself, or perhaps he got lost in the night. What if the end of his story is the beginning of someone else’s?

Daring, intimate and darkly funny, The Bleeding Tree is the story of a mother and two daughters, determined to survive, and a community who take justice into their own hands. A gripping revenge drama about complicity, secrecy and resilience from acclaimed Australian playwright Angus Cerini.

Premiering in the UK for the first time, produced by Jessie Anand, written by Angus Cerini, under the direction of Sophie Drake, this 60 minute play is harrowing and a must see. A tragically beautiful piece of theatre. It was as though you watching a poem being performed. The set was minimalistic with just three crates, surrounded by red sand. Jasmine Swan's set had the audience really focus on the story in front of them. Being in the Southwark Playhouse in a black box setting really did this play justice. From the design ream, to lighting, to sound, to movement, all of these aspects really helped the three women blossom into the roles and give a heartfelt performance, and one that will stay with me forever.

Starring three insanely talented women, Mariah Gale hails as the matriarch, with Elizabeth Dulau and Alexandra Jensen playing Ida and Ada, the two daughters. The emotion that these actresses put into their performance was remarkable. As well as their principal roles , they are also the voices of other characters throughout the story, which is a feat in itself. I found that extremely clever, it was as though you were in their heads seeing what they saw. The chemistry between our three leads was both beautiful and heartfelt.

It truly shows the lengths a mother would go to make sure her children are safe from danger. Even if that danger is their own father, like in this piece. This being said, Mariah's performance was a huge standout for me. She played the character in such a raw way, yet strong-willed. And full of captivating moments that stayed with you for periods of time. Do not cross a mama protecting her pack. Mariah does this effortlessly.

I felt that if the play was any longer it would lose its meaning and effect it has on the audience. A beautifully tragic story that unfortunately some may relate to all too well. I believe that this play will touch you in ways you may not actually realise, whether you have been in a similar situation or know someone who has.

If I could describe The Bleeding Tree in three words they would be; gripping, astonishing, and breath-taking. This play has solidified why I would choose the bear. The Bleeding Tree is playing at The Southwark Playhouse until 22 June.

You can book tickets to The Bleeding Tree at Southwark Playhouse, here.

Review by Dani

**photo credit: Lidia Crisafulli**

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