Review: TreeGirl and The West Woods | Arts & Culture | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

Review: TreeGirl and The West Woods

Two homegrown plays kick off a strong opening weekend at Eastern Front Theatre's STAGES Festival.

TreeGirl is the latest play from Haligonian writer Meghan Hubley. The story follows Laurel (Keelin Jack) a palliative care nurse who is haunted by her former patient Audrey (Martha Irving) and so climbs up a tree to contemplate life and be somewhere “new”. Crossing Laurel’s path on his way to the cemetery is Audrey’s teenage son Sebastien (Zach Faye), pitifully sad and grieving his mother. In Laurel he finds a companion of sorts; a reliable and consistent reminder that he is not altogether alone in his suffering. Laurel and Sebastien soon learn from one another how their grief is both different and the same, and the play’s best moments exist in this intimacy. Jack and Faye give truthful and often heartbreaking portrayals of people finding comfort in their shared pain. TreeGirl is a modest, quiet and meditative play that wears its heart on its sleeve and boasts three tender and deeply felt performances.

Written by Meghan Hubley
Directed by Margaret Legere
Dunn Theatre, Dalhousie University
May 19-21

The West Woods
Tara Reddick’s The West Woods is a dense and impactful new play about a black family living in a rural Nova Scotian town in 1968. Betty (Mariah Inger) is the strict and proud family matriarch who lives with her daughter, Pearlie (Alexandra Laferriere) who works cleaning white women’s kitchens in order to provide her own daughter with the opportunities she never had. Wanda (Micha Cromwell) is the young child of the family who fights fearlessly for what she believes is right, not caring if she gets in trouble doing it. Somewhere in the middle is Alfie (Nathan D. Simmons), an out of work dreamer who loves his wife’s quiet strength and is compelled by his daughter’s more combative ways, a tension that is heightened when members of the Black Panther Party come to town. Reddick’s script navigates complex territory with humour and grace, allowing for nuanced portrayals of four people struggling in very different ways. The dialogue is sharp, the performances are strong, and the play’s triumphant final words are unforgettable.

Written by Tara Reddick
Directed by Emmy Alcorn
Dunn Theatre, Dalhousie University
May 16-19

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