On Wednesday Night I went to see An Oak Tree at Circa. It runs until Sat 30 July.
The concept of the show is fascinating. There are two characters only. One, a hypnotist is played by Tim Spite. He was also the driver of a car which killed the daughter of the other actor.
The other character is played by a different person each night. For the next week, the guest actors are:
- Tue 19 July – Miranda Harcourt
- Wed 20 July – Paul McLaughlin
- Thu 21 July – Martyn Wood
- Fri 22 July – Jason Whyte
- Sat 23 July – Heather O’Carroll
- Sun 24 July – Phil Grieve
Now here is why they use a different actor each night. The actor does not know the script in advance. All they know is the broad concept.
This is not a improvised show. The guest actor does not have to make their script up. They just get it delivered a few words at a time. Sometimes Spite, as the hyponotist, will tell them what to say. Sometimes they’ll be handed a piece of paper with the next few lines on it.
On Wednesday the guest actor was Jessica Robinson. It was great observing her, as she had to act out scenes with just seconds to think. While she gets given the words, you have to come up with the facial expressions and body language to match. It must be one of the more challenging things you can do as an actor, and Robinson did it very well. Spite, as always, was masterful.
The show only runs for 70 minutes, and the time seems to run by, which is always the sign of a good show. You spend half the time just enjoying the challenge of the guest actor repeating their lines, and half the time soaking up the emotions as the two characters confront each other.
I enjoyed it greatly, and almost want to go back for a second night, to see how a different guest actor would go. I’d especially love to see Miranda Harcourt play the part.