Theatre: Trees Beneath the Lake


Trees Beneath the Lake
Auckland Theatre Company
With Michael Hurst, Catherine Wilkin, Theresa Healey, Brooke Williams, Peter Hayden, Leighton Stichbury
Directed by Simon Bennett

Hi guys! Chloe here.

I want to tell you all about this fantastic and amazing play that’s on at the moment called Trees Beneath the Lake. I saw it last night with my sister and couldn’t wait to write a review, even though I wasn’t intending to. And now I realise that since I’m writing it on Jawkward I have to make it sound coherent and less erhmagerd… so here we go.

Trees follows an ex-Wall Street guy called William Campbell, who returns to his childhood home of central Otago to kinda hide out a little bit when he starts to get investigated by authorities under suspicion of fraud. Here, with his wife Jen and son Ross, his mother Nieve, lawyer Ruth, and old family friend Tom, William tries to regroup and fight for his reputation and future, but just as we know from movies such as Death at a Funeral and August Osage County, when you get family back together like that, there are skeletons that come out of closets you never knew had been built. If you’re familiar with the story of Allan Hubbard or Bernie Maddoff at all then that kinda sums Campbell up nicely. 

The play was written by Arthur Meek, who wrote the very well received play On the Upside Down of the World. He wrote Trees while living in New York, courtesy of the Harriet Friedlander New York Residency which he received in 2012.

The thing I like about Trees is that it doesn’t tell a “typical” story but instead tells the story of how this fraud investigation affects his family – his wife, his mother, his son – and how it all falls apart around him.  Something a little bit different, and it works.  And, this play is FUNNY.  It’s almost black humour with the snide observations and one-liners, but not quite.  I laughed more than I was expecting to, let’s put it that way, even when I knew I ought to have been horrified by the scene. 

And what really propels the play from good to great is the acting. Michael Hurst et al are solid, delivering lines and attitude that perfectly match the pace of the script.

Basically, it was so good, you guys.  It’s quite possibly the best play I’ve seen by ATC so far.  It is on now at the Maidment Theatre until September 27.


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