Secrets don’t always make it to the grave and in the new stage play Tree; it comes knocking on your front door.
The Marcantel and Price family tree whispers salacious family secrets all the way from the Louisiana bayou and lands on the Price family’s front porch in Chicago. Her name is Didi and she’s looking for the family she inherited after he father’s death.
Whites and blacks didn’t mix and make families in the 40’s and 50’s down south. If they did, you left town quickly and it’s never spoken of. Coming up a mixed child in the south carried with it a shame of being a bastard child. No white man would ever openly accept you. So when Jessalyn Price and her white lover found themselves in ‘trouble’, he went off to the military and she went up north to be with extended family.
Years later, suffering from dementia-like symptoms, Jessalyn is being cared for by her son Leo who comes face to face with his white fathers’ daughter Didi. When these two strangers discover they are connected by blood, they must forgive the ghosts of the past and make sense of the gumbo of issues: race, gender and culture. In our supposedly post-racial world, Tree reminds us that sometimes we have to know where we’ve come from to know who we really are.
Though Tree is a relatable story for those living in the south, it is still the elephant in the room that begs for conversation about how a family can have a range of hues amongst its members. We don’t all have Indian in our families.
Tree is a great story being told by an experienced and competent cast. I would see it again simply for the sharp-tongued antics from Jessalyn Price who in her old age says whatever comes out. Tree is playing at the Horizon Theater in Allanta’s Little Five Points through October 16th. Tickets and play information is available at www.horizontheater.com or by calling 404-584-7450.