British Theatre Guide

August 2007

Jean Giono’s story from the 1950s seems to have far more relevance in today’s world where issues of deforestation and destruction of the natural environment have suddenly become huge concerns.

This is just a wonderful, enchanting piece of theatre for children or for adults. There is some genuinely very funny comedy that appeals to all ages at the same time and some parts that are really quite moving. The puppets and the sets are great, the story is beautifully told and Dog is a superb comic character. This show is expertly put together and is extremely entertaining, and has deservedly been selling out performances at the lovely little Netherbow Theatre in the Scottish Storytelling Centre on the Royal Mile.

David Chadderton

Fringe Review 2009 *****
The British Theatre Guide on The Man Who Planted Trees

This show has become a regular feature in the Fringe programme of the Scottish Storytelling Centre, selling out and winning awards for the last two years.

The show is based on Jean Giono’s story about a poor shepherd in France who dedicated his life to planting thousands of trees in a fairly desolate area, completely transforming the landscape and the lives of the people who lived there, without ever seeking reward or recognition. Puppet State frames this with banter between storyteller Jean, played by Richard Medrington, and a puppet dog simply called Dog, operated and voiced by Rick Conte.

This wonderfully-moving story is told beautifully by Medrington with the aid of simple but nicely-designed props, puppets and sets by Ailie Cohen, who also directs, and an evocative soundscape from Barney Strachan. The audience even gets to experience the smells of the French countryside (nice ones) and a bit of mist and rain. The conversations between Jean and Dog that link the story together are superb bits of comic business that are absolutely hilarious for children and adults, with Medrington as the straight man to Dog’s great gags.

This really is a show that appeals to all ages and is still a major highlight of the Fringe that can certainly withstand repeated viewings and still seem as fresh, funny and moving as ever.

David Chadderton,
The British Theatre Guide