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An Oak Tree Reviews

From the 10-Year Revival (2015)

Caryl Churchill described Tim Crouch’s two-hander as “a play about theatre, a magic trick, a laugh and a vivid experience of grief, and it spoils you for a while for other plays”. She’s right, but An Oak Tree doesn’t so much spoil other theatre as offer a different manifestation of magic, one that doesn’t pretend to expunge the differences between art and life but draws attention to them. It circles elegantly around ideas of presence and absence, the real and the representational, doubt and certainty, even time itself.

…this is performative language in action

An Oak Tree isn’t a cold art experiment, but a piece of theatre underpinned by a wide-eyed desire to explore art, a genuine desire to entertain an audience, and a powerful reverence for the sanctity of grief.

It’s fair to say that some will find the enterprise too coolly cerebral or merely a hollow exercise. Crouch pre-empts such criticism by puckishly observing that his 75-minute piece is “thinly plotted” and “contrived”. But its artifice is knowing and provocative, and the slightly jarring cleverness is matched by real emotional density.

…this is no mere intellectual exercise. Crouch’s bold formal experimentation is in service of an empathetic tale suffused with grief.

Theatre, we know, is make-believe. Yet as Tim Crouch’s extraordinary two-person show reminds us, life is make-believe too. There is what’s real, and there is how we describe it. All the world’s a stage, as some other playwright put it.

I often think of theatre as a magician’s trick: we delight in the transformations, but we want to know the secrets of how it’s done. The real magic comes from knowing that it’s not magic at all. Crouch gets that. He lays it bare, riffs on it.

There are moments in Tim Crouch’s An Oak Tree…that’ll make your stomach twist and your heart race. There are also moments which will make your bum squirm and your heart freeze over.

An Oak Tree is an un-missable piece of experimental theatre, in which the blurred boundaries of both theatre and acting are pushed to their limit in this intricate story of loss and suggestion.


From Earlier Productions

(the play) raises questions about the mind’s ability to impose meaning on the physical world. It is philosophy in motion, if you like. You could write a thesis about it, and people probably will. But what is most amazing is that this piece, by drawing attention to its own artifice, vividly celebrates the live, raw, communal experience of theatre and the mutual give and take between actors and audience.

It is like watching your own heart being mugged. You know exactly how it is happening, but you still can’t prevent it. On a good night, you will leave the theatre the same, but different.

This is a pretentious, self-admiring, pseudo-intellectual model. Some people will do anything to avoid writing a real play, possibly because they’re not sure they can.

an oak tree is a fascinating slice of unconventional theater that will keep the audience intrigued long after the final curtain…When Crouch and his guest get deeply into it …the puzzle becomes more than tantalizing. Different, unusual and unexpected, an oak tree is an intriguing tightrope-walk of a play.

One of the most exhilarating workouts in the city isn’t to be found in any gym or Spinning class. Instead, it can be found at the Barrow Street Theater, where Tim Crouch’s one of a kind production, an oak tree, is moving audiences and enlightening acting students all at once.

…I would call this Pirandello for a modern audience and better. It’s philosophy in action, playful and seriously thought-provoking.

Crouch’s brilliant, wayward show…has an incredible emotional pungency

Like my arm before it, Tim Crouch’s new work is an elusive, humane, luminously strange tale told by a consummate storyteller. Run, don’t walk, to see it

Absolutely fucking fantastic!!!

— The Observer

It’s mind blowing – for the actors and the audience.

— The Herald

THERE is nothing new under the sun, apparently, but sometimes you get a flash of just that. An Oak Tree is one of those flashes. It’s nothing like you’ve ever seen before and is impossible to describe without spoiling everything in it that will have you riveted to your seat, palms sweating.