The Magnolia Tree by The Wolves Theatre

In the front yard of the family’s home stands a Magnolia Tree. It was Mum’s favourite. Three siblings have come together to choose a nursing home for their mother who has advanced Alzheimer’s but instead Jack, for unclear reasons, will attempt to talk his sisters into letting her go, tonight. This ingenious script shocks and confounds. We’re privy to family secrets, fractured relationships and confessions. Personal boundaries are crossed leaving the three siblings with an impossible bind. This gripping psychological thriller has two endings, and the audience vote for the one powerful end they want to see.

There is a moment in this play, one single line that when spoken lowers the temperature of your soul. It is then that you realise that this play, set in an ordinary suburban house, is actually a middle-class journey into darkness. When Michael first had the idea, he simply liked the challenge of seeing whether he could find a way for Jack, the brother, to convince his sisters to commit a murder. And this is what might take place. This play is not about euthanasia. That time has long passed. This is a possible murder, where the question is, in this particular case, is murder wrong?

And thanks to the brilliance of the writing, Jack’s careful manipulations will see both sisters dangerously wondering, what is the point in rigorously defending a morality they can no longer afford? 

But why the voting?

When Michael was writing it he realised that the narrative had two solid but polarizing endings. With each ending leaving the audience with a different experience. But whilst pondering with which one to go with it suddenly occurred to him that that wasn’t his job. A playwright should pose questions not answer them, so why not make it a voting play and let you, the audience choose the one you want to see.

And remember this isn’t parliament, it’s theatre so you can vote melodramatically.

The voting is great. Most nights there are squeals of nervous laughter and gasps as the audience realise this is the moment when they must choose. Some members are fixed in their choice before the play has even started, and they won’t be swayed. But there is a middle bunch who waver. You see them struggling to decide all of them as confused by the logic of Jack as his sisters are. There is laughter and groans as the audience realise they won’t be told the verdict. They, like the actors on stage, must wait until deep into the third act, to find out which end was chosen. 

This tension is drawn out deliciously.

Touring window: May
Fee: $2,700 + $500 for technical equipment + GST + 10% royalties
Ideal for: Seniors, audiences with elderly parents, theatre groups, health groups, health workers and carers.

If you agree, then tonight the unthinkable will become thinkable.

1st May 2020

The Wolves Theatre Company
Duration: 80 minutes
Artform: Drama
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1st May 2020 Regional Arts Victoria Level 3, 370 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne, 3000