Tree reviews by Manchester Communication Academy students

Alisha
Tree is an amazing performance full of life and colour. The performance goes over political and racial issues that affect a lot of people and shines light on the issues. The night starts off as a party with loud music playing and light displays. Everyone was dancing and the cast members were dancing with the audience encouraging them to let loose. After the dancing, you are lead off the stage and to the audience seating/ standing area. The performance starts and can I just say – it’s amazing. The way the cast express them self, made the emotion so pure that audience members became emotional. The dancers in the performance were amazing. They moved with such grace and every dance move was clear. The chorography told a story and I think that’s amazing. The singers in the performance had a majestic voice that was powerful, clear and loud but it was also relaxing, calm and soothing.

My favourite part about the performance was the fact that the audience were involved. They picked audience members to come on stage and due to the atmosphere being so friendly they agreed. Flyers were thrown about to involve you in the plot and signs were handed out when they rioted. Everyone there wasn’t afraid or shy. The way the cast had behaved made the atmosphere a friendly place. It was truly amazing.

As a Creative Critic, we got to speak to the cast after they had performed. The cast were amazing people. They told us stories on why they had agreed to be a part of this performance. They told us how they each connected to the play. One was there because they were somehow connected to the issues the characters and the other was there because they thought the issue needed more light shone on it. When I asked what they thought the main meaning of the play was, they all had fairly different answers. However, one thing we as the audience and them as the cast all had in common was that we thought that we are all the same we shouldn’t be treating people differently. Especially not because of skin colour.

It’s an amazing performance with an even more amazing meaning. Everything in the play carefully dug into the issues of racism. It was a truly euphoric experience. I would fully recommend you go and watch it.

Daragh
Before going to this event, I was completely oblivious to what I was going to watch and if I’m being honest, I preferred it that way because then, it was a mystery. As I was entering the venue, it grabbed my attention straight away and kept it throughout. There were many bright lights and the music was extremely loud. I would definitely recommend you go and see this if you like raves and/or clubs. WARNING: I would not recommend this for you if you have epilepsy. The start had an authentic ‘party’ feeling:  there were a lot of different dance moves and different choreography. When the play started, I was a bit confused but extremely intrigued because they were a lot of different people using their body in different insane ways.

Watching deeper into the performance, there were lots of flashing lights and jump scare moments – for example, there was some unexpected gun shots. I soon realised that there was a lot of violence and some offensive language.  This play had many hidden messages and embedded metaphors. This play could have been interpreted in many different ways with many different meanings, but personally, I think the meaning behind this was that anyone can stay strong and you should always look for answers whatever it takes.

The actors looked so determined and dedicated to this performance and they also said they ‘felt at home’ when they were on the stage. The main character suffered through a tough time with the loss of him mum and his dad and only his grandmother to turn to. His grandmother, unaware of her daughter’s death, took to her grandson as time went on.

The audience played a big part in this performance, as throughout, the employees passed out signs to audience members to hold during the performance. There were different stages in this play when the actors broke out into music and started singing. When the music started, different employees started to bring audience members up to the stage. So I would say this performance was very interactive in term of audience interactions.

Destiny
If you are lucky enough to get a ticket, you should definitely attend the performance ‘Tree’. It brings really good vibes and is really engaging. As I entered, I didn’t really know what was it was going to be about. It started off as a party, which was really fun, with multi-coloured lights and loud music. I really enjoyed this part because it was very lively and funny. Personally, I think this was a creative and great way to introduce the performance.

As soon as Tree started, I was instantly transfixed with the story. Throughout, the actors got the audience involved making it very interactive. I was also able to be involved, which was an entertaining experience. The choreography really helped tell the story in a more active way. I thought that the fight scenes in particular, with the dancers, really mesmerised me. The way they used physical theatre during fight scenes, it was AMAZING, never did I think a horrific scene could look so beautiful. There were also some humorous parts whereas there were also some shocking and upsetting parts. The intense juxtapositions sent everyone who was there on an emotional rollercoaster.

Generally, I think the main purpose for Tree and what shone through the performance was the meaning. I think everyone took something different from Tree, but I feel like it was all about fighting against racism and how everything (especially family) stays strong despite anything bad that happens.

Overall, I think that Tree is an amazing performance and I would absolutely recommend it to everyone else.

Emma
Hello, I am a creative critic for MIF 2019. Recently, I have visited the performance; “Tree” and I will also be reviewing it. Tree was a really engaging experience and has many moments of humour during it. At the start, it had given us an opportunity to dance around and have a good time with your friends. Finally, when it had started, it already had attracted my attention as the music danced around the atmosphere. It was very easy to concentrate on the act as well. Personally,  I felt there was so much involvement for the audience and made you feel important as it had given you a chance to be one of the main characters.

It has also contributed people’s history in Western Africa and is based on true events throughout history. Additionally, it is 14+ as it contains very crucial language that children may find hilarious. Although, it may have an age restriction it will teach children an exhilarating experience and a really thrilling exploration to witness. Also, it is implacably interactive to the audience as they pick certain people to join the stage and be able to show that they’re brave. In my opinion, the main reason why it was produced to be seen as it implies fight for your rights gracefully or it shows that we are all human, we’re all on the same planet, no matter how different we have from our gender, colour and much more, it teaches us that we have to accept each other to be able to get along and create peace. During this performance, it has given opportunity to be able to participate by helping to create the tree or just a small thing by holding up a certain object to create this physical performance.

In my opinion, my favourite piece of this performance was when the tree was being created and the part where we were all be able given an opportunity to be able to dance around on the stage to make us all lose and to attract our attention to be calm and have an amazing time during this experience that might be the last or first time to see this. Mostly, seeing the fight scene was really engaging and just seeing that small add of detail of this certain type of scene in slow motion was extremely entertaining. Overall, I do not recommend it to sensitive people as there is violence in it but I do recommend it to people who adore action and tragedies.

Favour
I was very intrigued to find out the beauty and intensity of this show. As soon as I entered the building, I was already feeling the magic this place had to offer:  the different lights; the members of the show dancing and having fun and the audience singing their heart out.

This performance made me so emotional because of the many different messages being given. The message of racism, love for your ancestors and peace.

Even though it is suggested to be viewed by ages 14+, which I think isn’t fair because everyone should have access to watch this show since it could change many mind sets in a positive way, I really do recommend it to anyone who wants to be part of such spiritual community.

Something that distracted me from the show, however, was having to stand up throughout the performance or sit on the stairs. This distracted me because I had to keep moving since my legs kept hurting. Aside from that, this was the best performance I have ever been involved with, and I hope you go there and enjoy it as much as I did.

I also want to mention how the use of inclusion was so powerful. From beginning to end they made the audience a part of this performance. If you are a shy person, I’m not sure if this will be for you but then again they will not force you into coming up on stage and participating in this production.

Overall, no matter who you are or what you do, I know that this performance will warm your heart instantly.

Heidi
If you’re lucky enough to experience tree, then you should go. It’s a piece of theatre that inspires people, it makes you think about issues that surround our society, things that we don’t really question. It makes us revisit the past and present. This is undoubtedly the best performance I have ever seen.

Including native language and experience that touched those who performed, the entire performance was incredible. The first surprise was as I entered: the upbeat music that arose from the surroundings made me feel happy and the lights and setting were so inspirational. Once I stepped in, I felt confused – I thought I came here to watch performance, not party. As soon as I came through the door, I was greeted by Alfred Enoch. He pumped the vibe up and inspired people to dance. As the party went on, the lights were dimmed and then the performance began the hall filled up and spectators walked in.

People’s faces were mesmerised as they watched deeply. It felt like there was a bond between everyone and that there was something that played a sense of unity. Including people to dance, hold up posters and even be on stage with the actors.  They influenced people join in dances and songs. It was presented so well, as if the audience was a part of the play.  The atmosphere was friendly and no one was afraid to show their true emotions. The actors performed with such a high standard, portraying emotions which their body and creating such a traditional dance. The actors truly performed with all they could and then they used their native backgrounds that have such a big meaning and creating an influence on so many people.

My favourite scene of tree was the amount of brutality, not in the sense of the meaning only the way the actors played along with the scenes showing true emotions and showing how much pain they were feeling. The way they used their imaginations to show such a horrible scene in such a creative way. The use of physical theatre in these scene was simply phenomenal, creating the realism of a fight scene, but using unison, slow motion and extension made the performance unwatchable: I couldn’t take my eyes off what was happening and at no time was there any cringe look away moments.

The one thing that I did not enjoy was the age restriction. As I was under age, I thought that it was strange that technically I shouldn’t be here. However, Tree took me through a historic story and it has taught me a lot. I think anyone can interpret Tree in different ways.


Huda
This is undoubtedly the best production that I have seen and I am blessed and honoured to have been able to have experience it. When I first entered the room, it was filled with bright, colourful lights and loud music. At first I felt confused but also felt really excited because I had never really experienced anything like this before. As a 13 year old, I don’t have much experience of nightclubs!

I was greeted by Alfred Enoch, which was amazing because he was so welcoming and showed us his moves. As the room started to fill up, so did the energy. Nobody was shy or ashamed to dance, sing and jump around. The atmosphere was astonishing. It was infectious.  I’m not known for being confident, and I’m certainly not a dancer, but I really enjoyed it and found it unbelievable.

Out of nowhere, the music stopped and a character from the play came up onto the stage and started talking. The play had started. Normally, I wouldn’t like the fact that the play had started without a warning however I found this effective because everybody was hyper and then the atmosphere turned mellow.

The rest of the play was a moving tale of tragedy and identity. Perhaps the most standout thing for me, though, was the intense level of audience participation.  The idea of interactivity can often make people uncomfortable, but in this instance, I was made to feel part of something.

Another thing that I enjoyed was the physical theatre. The way that their bodies moved was truly captivating. The way that they did some of the scenes in slow motion or exaggerated their movements really made the whole piece, in my opinion, even better.

This play is something that I would recommend to everybody. If you’re like me and don’t really do much out of your comfort zone, I think that the Tree performance would help you get out of your shell and give you an experience of a lifetime.

Kameron
The performance was absolutely amazing – from the dancing, which perfectly complements the storytelling (and the story itself) to the special effects such as the tree which is raised from inside the amphitheatre. The metaphors of such objects create a powerful message, pushing the idea that we should stay true to our roots – another reference to a tree – and this is completely true, as it is important to be at home. The play had specific actors which were spirits: these spirits were in every scene, showing we are constantly influenced by our ancestors which guide us onto the right path. This is such a powerful meaning and again is completely true as our roots are constantly influencing our lives.

However, it also had actual experiences from South Africa inspiring the story and the events within it. It shows that even though there is a democracy there is still racism and police brutality. It involved the audience so you were involved in the performance and the beginning and end was a party which made the actors just feel so much more human and relatable. The special effects were absolutely amazing; during a raid the amphitheatre was set alight releasing smoke into the air.

Being able to speak to the actors and hear their interpretations of the piece was amazing as it allowed us to better understand and even sympathise for the characters. The dancing was amazing as it was so fluid and amazing and just made the whole experience so much better. All the actions were so natural yet exaggerated, and the emotions on the characters faces were so expressive they could tell the story without words.

This idea, created by Idris Elba and Kwame Kwei-Armah, is a must see if you have some spare money and are above the age of 14. It has been and is taking place in the Upper Campfield Market. This is truly a great piece and I recommend it.


Lily
Hello, I’m Lily, a Creative Critic for the Manchester International festival and today I’m reviewing Tree created by Idris Elba and Kwame Kwei-Arma.

I have seen many plays, but this one has to be my favourite. It has eye-catching dancing, amazing fight scenes and an emotional storyline.

When you enter where the performance is, there will be music playing and disco lights: at that time, you are able to dance freely and enjoy yourself. Soon, a man will come onto the stage and he will start to talk, making you intrigued, until he finishes his speech, when you will need to exit the stage for the performance is about to start.

There wasn’t a lot I didn’t enjoy, but the thing that annoyed me the most was that you would need to stand to watch the play, which could get really uncomfortable because the play is on for 90 minutes. If you didn’t want to stand, you could sit on the steps leading to the stage, but when I did that it felt even more uncomfortable than standing up so I wasn’t happy with that.

Overall, it was breath-taking: I could never get bored of it because all the way through there would be some kind of action happening and you would keep asking yourself questions from all the little hints they would add into the performance.

The most enjoyable part for me, though, was when they would include people from the audience, especially when we were able to help build a beautiful tree at the end. So I would definitely recommend this to everyone over the age of 11 since it isn’t totally inappropriate for children under the age of 14, but it still does have a lot of swearing so I wouldn’t recommend it for people under 11.

The thing that all the actors wanted you take away with you was that there is no proper moral for this play. The moral is whatever you want it to be.

 

Nafeesa
When I first went into the venue, it was very energetic and full of life. It was like we just entered a disco party or a club. Everyone was dancing on the stage, having fun. It was very interactive, as some of the actors had walked up to us and started to dance with us and helped to encourage us to dance. No one was embarrassed or not wanting to dance: everyone was involved. It was very important to have fun and be very relaxed but crazy.

When the play had actually started, it was very strange, as you weren’t able to get the plot of the story at the beginning. It seemed like a very normal play, very generic, but when the play got more into the story it was very intriguing and very eye capturing as a result of the dancer’s movement to the words being spoken. Every word being spoken had a meaning and was inspirational.

When I was told the play was a 14+, it shocked me, as I feel as though that it shouldn’t have had an age limit as due to the play being so influential and very eye opening. I feel as though any age should’ve been able to see it as then they would be able to interpret it in their own way. Despite their being swear words, I feel as though everyone would have taken that into consideration and questioned why they used that type of language.

The play was performed with passion and emotion as the actors used powerful expressions and powerful body language. Through this, they were able to show how important and how painful these events were. Due to them being based off of true events it gave the meaning behind the play more meaning. We were able to learn some of the things that was happening and still may be happening in South Africa.

I feel as though I liked this performance the most, as it was very expressive and you were able to be silly and be yourself. It was not judgemental and even the actors helped us. During the performance, many audience members were brought to the stage and were also the actors. There weren’t any ‘professionals’, everyone was an actor and everyone was equal, no one was different and everyone was equal.  Overall I really joined this performance and it was for all ages young or old.


Leonardo
Hi, my name is Leonardo, and I am a critic for the Manchester International Festival.

Tree was one of the best plays I have seen. I loved how they brought the audience on the stage to be part of the performance. It made people more interested into watching it. The music was loud and it just came on out of nowhere and shocked everyone. I’ve never been that shocked in my life and I could feel the vibration through my chest when it started. Some parts were emotional, whilst other parts were hilarious, and that’s what I liked about it. It wasn’t always negative, but when it was (and the audience were really sad) the performance added a funny line. It wasn’t like a normal play. It felt like I was in a movie.

Overall, I think that Tree is recommended for people for 10 years old and over even though its age-restricted for over 14. And I also think it’s for people who like adventures and action.

Noman Y.
My name is Noman and I am a creative critic for Manchester International Festival. When I first entered the venue, I was treated with a disco with an amazing DJ playing interesting and eccentric music. It was a lot of fun as me and my friends danced and messed about. Then the actual performance began; it was ominous and intriguing as the lighting was dark and the sounds they used were quiet and terrifying. My favourite part of this was the interactivity, since it created an immersive experience as we got to go on stage and help the actors with props and different types of things to do to get the audience hyped up. Overall, I think this was one of the best experiences of my life so far. The play was filled with emotion, work and power and when you watch it you will know how much work the producers and the cast have put in to it. So if you want a play with thrills, chills and pure emotions then I highly recommend the play to you.

Noman Z.
When I first attended the ‘Tree’ production, I didn’t know what to expect. I thought that because it was called Tree, it had a deeper meaning: I thought that it would be about the way Nelson Mandela grew, from being someone no one knew to becoming the president of South Africa and fighting for his race and culture and getting equality. That is a sign of a tree – from the roots to its final form a full grown tree. Sometimes, the tree doesn’t get sun and sometimes it doesn’t get rain and those are the setbacks Nelson Mandela had, BUT he overcame them.

My favourite part of the production was when the audience were given props, including myself, and I really liked that, because it felt like I was a part of it and the props were protesting signs so it also felt like we were fighting for a point. There wasn’t anything I didn’t like because there was everything: comedy, action, horror. It was like an emotional roller coaster, at moments I was happy and at other moments I was heartbroken. Everyone felt the energy through the whole room, the dancing, the singing, the acting everything was action packed.

I would recommend this to everyone, and even though it has an age restriction, I disagree with it because everyone has their own interpretation of things, everyone gets the chance to learn. When the performance finished, the actors got a standing ovation which they well and truly deserved. The actors went out of their way to talk to us which I thought was really cool. We got to talk to Anthony Mcgen, Alfred Enoch and many of the other performers. I asked for advice on how to be a great performer. They told me that if you love drama then you should protect, feed and nutritious your interest in it because you will only get better. I loved this production and if I ever get the chance I would go again.

 

Thandaza
Tree is an amazing play. You have to watch it if you get the chance. With mesmerizing dancing and extraordinary acting, this is a very well made play. This play taught me a very important lesson – to remember your ancestors. And if you don’t know about your ancestors, find out.

I, myself, after watching this play realised that I didn’t know much about ancestors and this play inspired me to learn about my history. To learn about the roots of my tree. And I think everyone should try to find out, because no matter what, no matter if there are dirty and disgusting parts in your tree, it’s still your tree. I’m not saying to get hung up on the past, but learn about the past and learn from the past so you don’t make the same mistakes your ancestors did.

How they conveyed the message was absolute genius. The dancing showed dynamic, dramatic and tragic scenes while bringing South African culture together. The boldness of the director to include strong language is inspiring and it is mind-blowing and mind-opening how they look at people like Nelson Mandela in different perspectives. It is truly one for the ages. I have to give a big thank you to Idris Elba and the cast for bringing this to life. Thank you. Quickly, hurry up and head to Upper Campfield Market before you miss this once in a life time experience. Hurry, before it’s too late.


Armando

What do you expect when you go to the theatre? Old people singing do-wop standards? Cheesy showtunes? This was what I assumed about theatre trips too – before I saw Tree.

Tree was an interactive play which combined dance and acting in a wonderful combination. It started off with a party and ended with a rave. How many productions can you say you’ve seen where it feels like you’ve been on a night out?

A standout performance came from Alfred Enoch, who played Kaelo, a young man destined to discover the mystery of his roots – linking to the title of the play. The story focused on themes of racism, family and grief. It was a very moving plot.

Furthermore, the interactivity of the play was a massively engaging and memorable experience. Audience members were handed props, with which they were encouraged to perform with themselves. This was the first time I had seen a play like this, and this will certainly not be the last.

‘Tree’ is a must-see production. It is a ground-breaking play, and if you get the opportunity to view it whilst it is at the Upper Campfield Market Hall, please do!

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