By Amalia Queller
The Language of Trees follows the story of a family split apart by war. Loretta and her seven year old son, Eben, deal with the absence of their husband and father while he is stationed as a translator in the Middle East. Their stories are told through dialogue and monologue on several mini-stages, forcing the audience to exist in different places at the same time.
Eben, and his mother Loretta and her neighbor, Kay, begin as strangers starting off on an awkward note. We see Kay as the noisy neighbor that we have all had at one time in our life. Their friendship grows into a codependent relationship, while trying to allow each other to grow and heal.
The play also explores the renewed relationship between mother and son as they rediscover one another. We see the truth of story through the young boy’s naïve but honest eyes. We also experience the husband’s relationship with his own psyche and how he copes with the war, by creating a figment of his imagination in the form of President Bill Clinton to survive the solitude.
The casting of an adult, Gio Perez, to play a young boy was genius. His acting is brilliant. He embodies the precocious nature of the curious child we’ve all known. We were able to experience the situation through his eyes; his naivety and optimism allows us to experience the essence of childhood. The characters illuminate the central theme of communication.
The idea of a tree language is the theme that brings the story together and gives us insight into Eben and Denton’s relationship. This language is really Eben’s escape from the grave situation of his father. We also see the philosophy of Denton’s that helps us understand why he went to the Middle East in the first place: “Enemies are just friends who don’t know how to talk to each other yet,” which is the essence of this play.