It's very likely you will go in not knowing anything about The Weird Tree. It's very likely you'll leave not understanding. Regardless, you'll appreciate the vision director Peter Petkovsek and the ensemble brought. Inspired by the Slovenian Fairy Tale, The Weird Tree follows a man who attempts to climb a tree that grows so tall in order to bring the king the fruit of the tree in exchange for the princess’s hand in marriage. The Weird Tree is a devised oddity that keeps you engaged with curiosity of what Petkovsek and Co. will offer next. With words written by Tingying Ma, Peter Petkovsek, Jocelyn Shratter, and Laura Zlatos, The Weird Tree showcases the company’s ability to offer a narrative through unique staging and striking storylines. Through the five actors each taking on the main role, The Weird Tree develops into a play about achieving one’s personal goals.
What The Weird Tree truly does is a showcase of Petkovsek’s talents as a director. His innovative staging included some fascinating choices ranging from blowup doll princess to magical orbs to a clip light sun. Petkovsek never ceases to amaze. He kept the piece moving, jumping from scene to scene, incorporating a blend of live and recorded voiceovers and allowing lighting designer Sarah Lang to offer an abundance of stunning lighting looks. Perhaps the only moment that Petkovsek faltered was having his company roam the stage during the audience load-in just to have them stand flaccid during the obligatory pre-show speech.
The acting company, comprised of Grace Denoncourt, Michael Donaldson, Ken Jackson, Eunyoung Bona Jung, and Jeanne Lauren Smith, made Petkovsek’s world look enchanted. The five actors worked cohesively as a unit, bringing an energetic urgency to the piece.
The Weird Tree is an incredibly specific piece of experimental theater. Chances are it won't be for everyone. You might even walk out confused as to what exactly you witnessed. But appreciation for Petkovsek's art of storytelling should be celebrated. Everyone needs a little weird in their life, right?