Reviewed by Jeffrey R Smith of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle

Fortunately for aficionados of quality theater, the Shotgun Players have prudently elected to extend CARE OF TREES through June 26: this is a public service.

Written by E. Hunter Spreen and capably directed by Susannah Martin this marvelous play is a virtual canvas on which many conspicuously great artists within the Shotgun Troupe have dabbed their genius: comingling their creative brushstrokes.

Award winning set designer Nina Ball is consumed by a creative flame: for Nina, it is not enough to create a set reflective of the spirit and suited to the action of the play, Nina goes on to bring entrance ways, the foyer and the outside of the building into thematic harmony with the script: if there is over-kill in scenic art, Nina may have achieved it.

For TREES, Nina seems to have taken a cue frOM Led Zeppelin: she has constructed a spiral stairway, seemingly to heaven or at a minimum to the playhouse rafters.

Much of the mood of the play emanates from the dramatic lighting by Lucas Krech: were TREES a silent movie and illuminated by Lucas, it would still make sense.

The sound and music of Jake Rodriguez make a major contribution to the development of psycho-drama within the play: while the actors express their feelings with words, gestures and movement, Jake expresses their emotions with sound.

Liz Sklar (as Georgia Swift) and Patrick Russell (as Travis Dekalb) perform a stunning and strenuous dance on stage; given the gut retching emotional conflicts they writhe through, one can only hope that they are not employing “method acting” as derived by Stanislavski and Strasberg: an extended run could have them reaching for the Librium or bathing in the Liebfraumilch.

The play seems to borrow ever so slightly from Tom Stoppard’s TRAVESTIES (the greatest production of TRAVESTIES in the bay area was performed by the Shotgun Players): the initial narration, by Georgia and Travis, lurches, halts and rewinds like Henry Carr’s unfurling recollections of Zurich in 1917.

Georgia metamorphosing into a tree is reminiscent of Daphne changing into a Laurel tree as she is pursued by Apollo.

If E. Hunter Spreen has taken anything off the shelf, it is there that the semblance ends: the show is nothing short of a rocket sled: fasten your seatbelt.

For tickets call 510-841-6500 or visit