Playwright and actor Meg Webster regales us with her various experiences in tree planting across Canada–from her time as a rookie to her return to the wilderness, and beyond.
Webster is an energetic storyteller with a beautiful singing voice and a wonderful sense of physicality. In fact, one of the highlights of the show is her depiction of parties that occur when the tree planters take their weekly trip into town.
The sequence is broken by a single long look, indicating a personal connection she makes with another planter. It says so much with so little.
I wish more of the play had been like that.
In my opinion, Webster’s weakness was the extent of her passion. There were so many experiences she had, so much that changed her during the work that she wants to tell everything in detail.
Unfortunately, I think her level of detail held back her own story. At times I even felt like there was more repetition than depth. The second half of the play is virtually the same as the first, except for minor differences.
I didn’t think much was added. It didn’t help that I think she also had a lot of avenues of thought that weren’t always cohesive when put together.
Is Things the Trees Taught Them strictly about her experience? Is it a love story that changed her life? Is it just that tree planting is like life?
Webster is clearly telling a story that is super personal to her and I think it limited her focus on what the audience should take away from the show. She tried to detail her revelations but it was the quieter sections of her work that spoke volumes; like the moment she emerges from her tent (strung up near the back of the stage), lights a string of lights for stars, and wonders at them.
Those were the seconds I took away.
- Things the Trees Taught Them plays at the Factory Theatre Studio. (125 Bathurst St.)
- Tickets are $13, including a $2 service charge. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes and discounts for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Festival Box Office at Scadding Court (275 Bathurst St.), and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Content Warnings: mature language; audience participation; strobe lights; not recommended for children.
- The Fringe Festival considers this venue to be wheelchair-accessible.
- Relaxed performance July 14th at 3:45 pm
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- The Toronto Fringe Festival is scent-free: please do not wear perfumes, colognes, or other strongly-scented products.
- Friday, July 5th at 7:15 pm
- Saturday, July 6th 8:30 pm
- Sunday, July 7th 10:15 pm
- Tuesday, July 9th 4:00 pm
- Wednesday, July 10th 9:45 pm
- Friday, July 12th 6:00 pm
- Sunday, July 14th 3:45 pm
Photo of Meg Webster by Rita Leistner