The Man Who Planted Trees

Aug 25 2022 | By More

★★★★★     Simply beautiful

Scottish Storytelling Centre (Venue 30): Fri 5 – Mon 29 Aug 2022
Review by Suzanne O’Brien

The Puppet State Theatre production of The Man Who Planted Trees at the Scottish Storytelling Centre is a show for everyone – and one that has never been more relevant.

This tells the inspirational story of a Shepherd Elzéard Bouffier and his dog, whose actions have immeasurable effects. This simple tale of generosity and selflessness conveys how small acts of kindness can make huge differences.

Dog, with Rick Conte and Richard Medrington. Pic Brian Fischbacher.

The Man Who Planted Trees is adapted from the short story of the same name by Jean Giono. Richard Medrington plays storyteller Jean who, on his travels through Provence, meets the shepherd Bouffier – a man who plants trees. When Jean revisits the place over the years, the landscape that was once parched and barren has turned into luscious forests in which life thrives.

Medrington is a charming storyteller with a voice you just have to listen to. He has a great natural rapport with his on-stage partner Rick Conte, who brings the shepherd and his hilarious puppet dog to life.

Without over complicating or oversimplifying, the story details the benefits and incredible chain reaction which trees have, including their effect on water supply, wildlife, communities and even the weather.

In addition, the story touches on slightly heavier topics such as war, politics, and death as well as the abuse of money and power. It highlights just how quickly attitudes can change depending on who ultimately benefits. The contrast of a selfless man and those out for political gain is shockingly truthful and, unfortunately, relatable.

full sensory experience

The production is a full sensory experience enhanced by the gentle scents of lavender and mint among other things. Material covers on the set are revealed at different stages to represent the ever-changing landscape which, in a very simple way, help to build upon the images that are already successfully created through the words of the story.

Puppet state theatre company has been performing and touring this production since 2006 and it certainly has a smoothness and quality reflective of that. Yet somehow, it still manages to feel fresh, as if Medrington and Conte are performing it together for the first time.

To categorise this as just a “children’s show”, is doing it a disservice. Yes, it is ideal for children, but it will hold an equal enjoyment for anyone who chooses to watch it. Very much like the trees which were generously planted by Elzéard, the incredibly positive effect this production has had and will continue to have is immeasurable. Personally, I could not recommend this show more.

Running time: One hour 5 minutes (no interval)
Scottish Storytelling Centre (Netherbow Theatre) 43-45 High Street, EH1 1SR (Venue 30)
Friday 5 – Monday 29 August 2022
Odd dates only: 13:15.
Tickets and details: Book here.

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