4/5 Stars

Mafia?/Western? at the Pleasance – 5 Stars

I would love to give this show 2/5 stars. I really would.

A post show conversation revealed that this is the only rating Sleeping Trees have not yet received and I do so love to be different. However, my conscience – neigh – my integrity as a petty authority on art compelled me to honesty and I was forced to give this show the first 5/5 of my admittedly short theatre reviewing career.

Saturday night’s performance revealed to me that whilst majesty of language, intelligence of performance and intricacy of stage design are of equal importance, some things elicit a much higher rating from this novice reviewer.

A man doing a cat impersonation, a man doing a camp fire impersonation and – best of all – a man doing one of the most beautiful pieces of physical theatre I have ever been blessed enough to witness and rolling across the stage in an approximation of tumble weed is apparently what makes theatre a “must see” for me.

mafia western

The double bill begins with Mafia. Imagine Al Pacino meets Al Murray and you get a sense of what Don Cologne and his cronies were like on stage. Before seeing the performance I would have asserted that the generic gangster character is a fairly one dimensional stereotype – braces, swagger, say “swanwhich” a few times and jobs a good’en. How wrong I was.

The actors on stage move seamlessly from character to character with only accents and physicality to distinguish, apparently creating a whole cast from just the three of them. They utilise physical theatre, mime and a rough approximation of dance (no offence boys) to the fairly constant soundtrack created by the three-man band behind.

Western was of a similar formula, using cliché tropes from old Western films in a spoof-esq fashion alongside well timed, original material that had the whole audience laughing – an impression gained not just from the fact that I was sat next to one of the actor’s girlfriends, I assure you. The trio deviated off script on occasion but often the only way this was apparent was the smirks of the band behind who too were evidently hearing the material for the first time.


Ever so often one of the three would acknowledge the audience, on one occasion to say, “That’s all I’ve got. That’s as good as the improv is going to get this evening!” Even at these moments however, the Sleeping Trees confidence on stage and obvious familiarity with each other made for a seamless and side-achingly funny performance.

Whilst both Mafia and Western have currently come to the end of their run, I whole heartedly suggest getting along to Sleeping Trees next performance. There are rumours it will be Sci-Fi…

Categories: 4/5 Stars, review

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