T&P Review: The Green Bay Tree

T&P Review: The Green Bay Tree

Originally published in Theatre & Performance Magazine

Julian lives a lavish 1930s lifestyle, wanting for nothing in the home of his upper class adopted father Mr Dulcimer. But when he meets hard-working veterinary surgeon Leonora he is more than happy to fly the family home, get married and live happily ever after. Unfortunately Mr Dulcimer’s reaction to the news is less than pleasant, cutting off his protégé from the creature comforts he adores and inadvertently pushing him back into contact with his real father, Mr Owen. Will Julian choose to live the life of a pauper with his new family, or will his inner greed draw him back into the luxury that he is accustomed to with Mr Dulcimer?

Mordaunt Shairp’s play examines an interesting topic of greed versus morality but the whole production seems a bit too short and ends quite abruptly. Tim Luscombe’s direction seems to have instructed the actors to be slightly reserved in their character development and there are a number of key lines that are lost because the actors have their backs to the audience. Gregor Donnelly’s set was simply designed and was a good backdrop for the stark scenes between Julian and Mr Owen. Mr Dulcimer’s abode could have been a bit more luxurious to emphasise the difference between the characters and the choice that Julian is forced to eventually make.

The stand-out performance here is Poppy Drayton as Leonora, with pluck and presence right from the first line. The relationship between Leonora and Christopher Leveaux’s Julian is endearing, typical of young and fast love. But Julian’s attachments to Mr Dulcimer are less convincing; Richard Stirling has capitalised on the latent homosexuality of the part but would benefit more from also bringing out Dulcimer’s contempt of the lower classes. The final scenes had some glimpses of this and the audience were treated to a battle between Dulcimer’s stiff upper lip and Richard Heap’s portrayal of Mr Owen as a righteous and moral working class preacher. Leveaux himself seems to react well off others but needed to come out of his shell in some of the earlier scenes – it took him some time to get into his stride.


Jermyn Street Theatre, London

Playing until 21st December 2014

Awarded 3 stars