The three performers who make up the Trees; Joshua George Smith, John Woodburn and James Dunnell-Smith are also the writers and creators of this family-friendly Christmas show. The three of them play multiple roles, often switching frantically between parts on stage. Along with their musician friend Ben, they begin to reminisce about their lovely Nana who used to tell them brilliant bedtime stories.
However, someone has ripped out the last pages from Nana’s storybook and stolen all the endings. This begins our adventure, as Goldilocks follows The White Rabbit down the Rabbit Hole and into Wonderland.
The characters we meet along the way, all played by the three Trees, are each more whacky than the last. John Woodburn absolutely relishes playing the bad queen Alice and feeds delightfully off the audience’s jeers and boos. James Dunnell-Smith makes an extremely convincing little blonde Goldilocks and Joshua George Smith takes on some of the more surreal supporting roles including a happy-go-lucky Humpty Dumpty and a geography-obsessed Mad Hatter. The boys also take on the roles of Athos, Porthos and Aramis with some dodgy French accents and a pitch perfect boy-band rendition of ‘All for One.’
The best thing about a Sleeping Trees show is the sense of fun the performers give off. The children in our audience were particularly riled-up and keen to interact and the actors handled every heckle with humour. There is such a pleasure in watching the silliness that the writing and delivery omits. The physicality and vocal delivery of the characters is enough to make both adults and children laugh and there are some great jokes for all ages.
As well as this, the story came with a nice narrative and a positive message to take away. The idea that the ‘Happy Endings’ we are given are sometimes not the best (sorry Humpty Dumpty) but we can write our own endings, is a great way of tying the stories together.
Battersea Arts Centre is committed to making their shows more accessible and because of this every performance is a relaxed performance, welcoming audiences to make noise and move around when and if they need to.