Rogues & Vagabonds

theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013…

Archive Review • THE MAN WHO PLANTED TREES • Puppet State @ Unicorn Theatre [tour] • 2008

Rick Conte, Dog & Richard Medrington Photo: Brian Fischbacher

Rick Conte, Dog & Richard Medrington Photo © Brian Fischbacher

This is a genuinely lovely piece of work. It comes garlanded with praise from the previous two Edinburgh Festivals and rightly so. Puppet State Theatre Company have adapted French writer Jean Giono’s 1953 story of a farmer who planted a forest, acorn by acorn, transforming arid Provençal land into lush fertility, with deep respect. Manifestly a parable on the ease with which good may be done, as well as a plea to look after our world, it is also a wildly funny puppet show. I doubt whether there is a more enjoyable show on in London at the moment – for adults as well as children.

Much praise must go to Ailie Cohen, who not only directs it but also designed the set and puppets, yet this has the feel of a real collaboration between performers and technicians. The story is told by Jean (Richard Medrington) and a scruffy stick-fixated dog (Dog – with the help of puppeteer Rick Conte). All are assured performers: Richard Medrington has the kind of unpretentious style that makes an audience relax instantly, while Rick Conte is dryly witty. They wrap the story up in comedy banter, a rapport between the performers that also embraces the audience. More remarkable still is the rapport they have with their puppets – they have that attentiveness to them that marks out real puppeteers. It’s as if they are waiting to see what the puppet will do next. In Dog they do have a genuine star, individual, wise-cracking and instantly loved by every child in the audience.

There is so much to admire in this production, but when something is this good one hesitates to spoil it by giving away specifics. Suffice to say that the combination of simple yet lyrical images of striking poetic language – ‘Pools of water that overflowed on to carpets of fresh mint’ – of gorgeous scents wafted on the air and of just plain laughing a lot, makes for a truly rounded theatrical experience. An uplifting one, too. So much of our culture is propelled by the idea that we don’t have much time, yet this is quite the opposite; it has the confidence to take a leisurely pace, with time to spare. That is the point of the play, of course, that everybody has the time to make a hole in the earth and drop an acorn in.

Do try to get to The Man Who Planted Trees, whether you have a child with you or not; it’s only on at the brilliant Unicorn Theatre for three weeks before it heads off around the country, and it should book up fast. I defy anyone not to enjoy this.

Claire Ingrams © 2008

Originally published on R&V 11-04-08


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

The poor side of life


For the Love of Art

Create, Explore, and Discover, Every Day.

Politics and Insights

Public interest issues, policy, equality, human rights, social science


Supporting the rich amateur theatre scene on the Isle of Wight

Robin Hoskyns Nature Photography - Blog

Images and stories of nature, science and conservation.

Sarah Ditum

Writing, etc.

The Müscleheaded Blog

"Nothing Exceeds Like Superfluous Jejunity "

Jots from a Small Apt.

Largely @ Liberty

Rethinking Life

Art and the philosophy of life

Croatia, the War, and the Future

Ina Vukic - Croatia: people, politics, history, economy, transition from communism to democracy

lynz real cooking

lynz real life

Pride's Purge

an irreverent look at UK politics

Pride's Purge

an irreverent look at UK politics

Tropical Affair

Observations of the illusion through the eyes of wonder...

The home of writer Barney Hoskyns' books, poems, photos and more.

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

Blog magazine for lovers of health, food, books, music, humour and life in general

I didn't have my glasses on....

A trip through life with fingers crossed and eternal optimism.

Left Handed Lottie

Drawing and painting on an ipad

Atelier 88

More than just rooms

The Sleeping Hare

Art by Lottie Nevin

Pacific Paratrooper

This site is Pacific War era information


The musings of a Londoner, now living in Norfolk

Vegan Books For Children

books from Little Chicken, Honestly Books and Violet's Vegan Comics

Catherine Meyrick

Historical Fiction with a touch of Romance

Silver Screenings

an irreverent blog of old movies

My Life as an Artist (2)

Smile! You’re at the best site ever

Violet's Vegan Comics

Virtual Vegan Comics for Children

Two Rooms Plus Utilities

Written from the heart, this is the unadulterated truth of live with multiple chronic illnesses and being housebound. My life open for you to follow. Please join me


How current policy is little more than kicking the cat....

Matt's History Blog

Hopefully interesting snippets and thoughts

David Hencke

Westminster and Whitehall news investigations

Notes from the U.K.

Exploring the spidery corners of a culture and the weird stuff that tourist brochures ignore.


August is archive month. Posts from the past

P.A. Moed

Creative Exploration in Words and Pictures


collage/mixed media artist

My Dad Is A Goldfish

Caring for a demented dad

Scope's Blog

Scope exists to make this country a place where disabled people have the same opportunities as everyone else. Until then, we'll be here.

Art Farm of a Country Woman

Painting My World with My Heart


Literature, books , sport and whatever intrigues me

AT A GENTLE PACE - Bridget Whelan's lifestyle travel blog

for people who would try anything except whitewater rafting (probably)


My personal opinions about.......stuff (as if you care!)

A Teacher's Reflections

Thirty Years of Wonder

The Theatre Guild Newsletter

Celebrating 98 years on Broadway!

Pen and Pension

Immerse yourself in Georgian and Regency England

Scleroderma Guy

It's Not A Life Sentence. It's A Life. Sentence

%d bloggers like this: