Exploring death: the surprisingly philosophical children’s play The Halloween Tree is on until October 31st
Playgoers of all ages were buzzing with excitement as they gathered outside Concordia’s D.B Clarke theatre, awaiting the start of a beloved adventure. Geordie Productions did not disappoint—the Montreal-based theatre company brought the thrilling tale of The Halloween Tree to life.
The story of The Halloween Tree has become a seasonal classic. Based on the 1972 children’s book written by Ray Bradbury, the tale follows five children who travel through time, experience history first-hand and come to terms with death. The hour-long play begins as the children head off to trick-or-treat, but soon realize one of their friends is missing. The group then embarks on an adventure to save their friend, Pipkin, from death. With Halloween fast approaching, this is the perfect play to get you in the holiday spirit.
Even though the story is based on a children’s book and the acting is geared towards a younger audience, with over dramaticized physicality and language, the performance did not neglect the adults in the audience. The script included some very philosophical undertones—one of my personal favourites being the description of death as change. Death was compared to the setting of the sun every night and the beginning of a new day every morning. Every day the sun is “killed” by the night, but in the end, the sun always comes back, transformed into a new day, like hope after death.
The play also touches on the historical evolution of Halloween and it’s significance in different cultures, from Ancient Egypt, to the Irish Druids, all the way to modern-day Mexico.
At it’s core, the play is about friends standing together and facing their fears. The characters—and the audience—learn the value of friendship, of taking risks and of making selfless sacrifices to save one of their own.
The play also featured entertaining music and songs, which complimented the atmosphere of the story. Each of the six actors gave their character unique quirks, which helped bring them to life on stage.
Amanda Kellock, the director of this stage adaptation, wrote in the program that Halloween is an important holiday in her everyday life, and this play gave her the chance to share her delight of the holiday. She did note that it is a play about death, but quickly followed this by stating that it is also a play about life. By exploring death and confronting it, we are able to appreciate life more—to enjoy every moment of life and to savour it.
The play also helps explain death to younger audiences, and helps them come to terms with it. Although the play ends all tied up in a pretty bow, I believe it is setting unrealistic expectations for children about death. However, I understand the need for a happy ending for the sake of the children. My issue, though, is that it gives children impossible hope. If they happen to have a relative close to death, it gives them an improbable expectation that they can save them by giving up something precious to them, just as the children in the play did. As a whole, I did enjoy the show and it tackled questions that everyone should consider. If you love Halloween and want to get into the spirit, I would recommend going to see this show.
The Halloween Tree runs from Oct. 21 to 30 at the D.B Clarke Theatre, and tickets range from $13.50 to $19.50. To learn more about the director, you can also check out The Concordian’s profile of Amanda Kellock on our website here.