There is already tension in the room as you enter Freestanding Room to see Rootless Tree directed by Isabel Farias Lehoux. There is an ominous clock sound in the background as Jen Viens (Norma) and Rebecca Rowley (June) sit at a rustic wooden table staring each other down, slightly moving every few minutes. The set is centred around this huge and beautiful light fixture tree that is hung from the ceiling, and extends across the entire stage. There is an eerie soundtrack which plays throughout the piece, helping to clarify themes, rhythm and moments. The audience is immediately transported into these women’s world as they enter.
Both the writing and acting of the piece have a very classic high-brow theater feeling to them which is not often seen at the Fringe. The two women in the piece are continuously at odds with one another as Norma continues to get drunker and June obsesses over her potential presidency in the Women’s Christian Temperance Movement. But they share one thing in common – a desire for their husband to come home. Instead of their husband, a visitor appears, calling themselves Fran (Julia Thomas) and uproots these women’s normal (if dysfunctional) evening routine.
Though the play is beautifully created, the other-worldly aspects of the show can leave the audience confused and unsure of the characters. Are the two women split personalities of the same character? Who is Fran? Frances? Frankie? Are they all the same character split between three actors? There are beautifully structured small stories of their pasts, but it is the kind of show that leaves the audience working to piece the small snippets together to understand the larger picture of what they just saw on stage.
If you want to see solid acting, a beautiful set, and love spending the evening discussing different theories of what was happening on stage, then Rootless Tree is the show for you!
Rootless Tree continues to run at The Freestanding Room until June 17 as part of the St. Ambroise Montreal FRINGE Festival. You can get tickets for Rootless Tree HERE. Find out all shows and info at montrealfringe.ca. Montreal Rampage coverage of the Fringe Festival includes reviews of Greasy