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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

The Man Who Planted Trees

Transformed from prescient tale into madcap puppeteering masterpiece, this show is wonderfully moving, utterly unpretentious and unobtrusively didactic. Come with your day's baggage, leave with a pack of invisible acorns.
By Hilary Simmons
November 28, 2010
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By Hilary Simmons
November 28, 2010
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French storytellers seem to have a peculiar gift for producing deceptively simple little fables which nevertheless resonate at the deepest level. Jean Giono's The Man Who Planted Trees was first published in 1953, the same year as Antoine Saint Exupery's beloved fable The Little Prince. It has the same guileless, perennial appeal. It's the story of a young man who wanders into a desolate valley where nothing grows but wild lavender. He meets a shepherd who has decided to rejuvenate the valley by single-handedly cultivating a forest, acorn by individual acorn. Observing the shepherd's selfless dedication, the young man learns something about the human heart. 

Transformed from prescient tale into madcap puppeteering masterpiece by the most excellent Puppet State Theatre Company, The Man Who Planted Trees has sold out and won awards all over the world for the last two years. Now performing at Sydney Opera House, the show combines superb comic sketches involving a stage-stealing sheepdog with an evocative soundscape and scented breezes that transport the audience to the French countryside. The simple set, consisting of canvas tree shapes and scruffy hessian sheep, becomes a metaphor for the simple message of the story. 
The Man Who Planted Trees is wonderfully moving, utterly unpretentious and unobtrusively didactic. Come with your day's baggage, leave with a pack of invisible acorns.

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