Above – Isobel Dickson and Rebecca Clay in Wayne Tunks Flame Trees. Production photography by Isobel Markus-Dunworth

”Who needs that sentimental bullshit anyway?” decries the pamphlet that I grabbed before going in to see FLAME TREES at the Depot Theatre in Marrickville last night.

The answer seems to be that we all do. For this play is all about sentiment. And about fire, fires and an old flame.

The Depot is part of the Marrickville Enmore/Newtown burgeoning theatre scene. Vibrant Young and Raw. The play is a reflection of that. Tess Ashley, finely played by Isabel Dickson,  returns to the small town she left many years ago and we all wonder why. The reasons are gradually revealed in this drama which has it all. Love, sacrifice, crime, punishment, betrayal and duplicity. It is also a psycho drama and a whodunnit. Have I left something out?

It is a wide ranging ambitious play by Wayne Tunks who also puts on a fine performance as Tess’ young intellectually retarded brother, Rick.

The bones of  Tunks’ script are excellent. The fact that its many themes are wrapped up in an hour and forty minutes (including interval) would suggest a somewhat simplistic ending and in my view this is the case.

Theatre Press has described the play as having dialogue that ‘has you feeling not like you are watching a play but as if eavesdropping on some private conversations’, and I would agree with that.

There is some fine acting here by the remainder of the cast in this at times brutal compelling and insightful play.

Wayne Tunks FLAME TREES, directed by Simeon Yialeloglou, is playing the Depot Theatre, 142 Addison Road, Marrickville till July 2.