It initially hit the headlines for controversial reasons about artistic credit. Now that it’s opened, what have critics said about Idris Elba and Kwame Kwei-Armah’s Tree? Premiered as part of the Manchester International Festival, it’s now transferred to London’s Young Vic Theatre, where it continues until 24 August 2019.
Evening Standard: ★★★★ “the visual flair of its staging, strong performances and an excellent Afro-electro soundtrack make up for the glib slightness of the story. What’s more, it begins and ends in a party, and we’re all invited. Turns out the Young Vic is an excellent dance venue.”
Broadway World: ★★★★ “Staged with vibrancy and colour, Tree is an evocative evening at the theatre that tells an important national story. One can only hope that audiences will listen to the music it proudly sends forth.”
Time Out: ★★★ ” It is an exhilarating piece of visual theatre that has the guts to talk about some very serious stuff, but in doing so it feels a bit too diffuse: its roots spread wide, but not deep.”
London Theatre.co.uk: ★★★★ “Kwei-Armah’s direction feels collaborative. The audience stands around the stage as placards are passed around to fill the space, while some are invited up to dance – or in one person’s case, play a government official. While it generates a great sense of community, it the ushers continually passing through directing the crowd can be quite distracting.”
Culture Whisper: ★★★★ “Tree is more exciting as an experience, with the pre- and post-show dance party, than it is as a pure play. But in just 90 minutes the show manages to switch between celebration and grief, while eloquently unpacking the notion of privilege and identity.”
The Guardian: ★★★ “With the aid of Jon Bausor’s design and Duncan McLean’s projections giving us vistas of the veld, the show offers a kaleidoscopic spectacle that makes up for its occasional deficiencies as drama.”
The Upcoming: ★★★★ “Tree is immersive and experiential theatre without being crazed, pretentious or inaccessible. The show has a wonderful, deep narrative with interactive elements drawing the audience in and inviting them to be a part of the story. From the onstage talent to the spectacle of the set, there are plenty of reasons to go and see this play.”
A Younger Theatre: ★★★★ “A bold take on the blood-soaked history of South Africa, it combines new and traditional theatrical conventions to tell the story of a family in tumult.”
British Theatre Guide: “As such, this vibrant production is likely to have wide appeal to the type of young, theatre-agnostic visitors that its director Kwame Kwei-Armah is so keen to attract to the Young Vic.”
BBC.co.uk: ★★★ “But it is well worth seeing. Particularly if you like your theatre loud, fearless, and funky and don’t mind a few rough edges.”
London Theatre1: ★★★★ “Imagistic and multi-sensational with a soundtrack pitched soul-touching perfect, the effect is layered, intriguing and elevating. Transcendent and celebratory, Tree works and is worth it.”
Johnny Fox.co.uk: ★★★★ “for now, simply enjoy the beauty of its musical branches and ignore the shallowness of its polemical roots.”
Upper-Circle.com: ★★★★ “Alfred Enoch leads the cast wonderfully, with the perfect mix of boyish charm and maturity. Surrounding Enoch is a tight knit ensemble portraying ancestors to protesters. Although they are on stage almost constantly their energy never falters and they carry the show well.”
London Unattached: “The play evokes powerful emotions, rage, anger, desire for retribution, the need for reconciliation. Was there a dry eye in the house by the end of the play? I had in mind a few of the most poignant words ever penned about South Africa, the name of Alan Paton’s 1948 novel, ‘Cry the beloved country’.”
Tree continues to play at the Young Vic Theatre until the 24th August.