Sleeping Trees: Mafia?/Western?

Western? is like watching your three little brothers playing Cowboys and Indians - with excellent band accompaniment, inventive slapstick and relentless wit. So not quite like watching your clumsy brothers, more like watching three men who have mastered the craft of genre-bending physical comedy. They are Sleeping Trees.

With a script that steers left field of convention and indulges every whim, Sleeping Trees have created a lawless comedic style of their own.

This year’s offering is set in the Wild West, where we follow the journey of ordinary bloke Harry Stubbs. Wrongly convicted of murder, he enlists the help of a Native American boy on a mission to clear his name and produce the real culprit to the cranky Sheriff. Expect a bank raid, a prison escape, a treacherous journey across the desert, a brothel scene, a mineshaft, a horse chase, a hanging, a rodeo, a shoot-out, a runaway train… [breath], mischievous wasps, a chatty scorpion and slow-rolling tumbleweed; all physicalised expertly by the actors with no props or set.

The cast parody near on 50 typical western characters and objects through distinct multi-roling. James Dunnell Smith plays the despicable outlaw with booo-inducing evil, and he is equally convincing as the wonderfully inept deputy Sheriff. John Woodburn is nimble and soft-voiced as the spiritual Native American, whose aspiration to become a hero forges a loyalty to the calamitous fugitive. It’s a perfectly impractical partnership, with Joshua George Smith playing unlikely adventurer Stubbs. Smith plays the lead with a forlorn deadpan that comes into hilarious effect amidst the chaos.

The live score is a superb offering from Physics House Band. Big numbers lift the energy of the production, and the musicians remain as agile as the actors to deliver on every beat of comedic potential. The whole team have created a dynamic and punchy show that pulls a laugh from your throat at every turn. With a script that steers left field of convention and indulges every whim, Sleeping Trees have created a lawless comedic style of their own. It will make children out of the old and adventurers of the young. 

Reviews by Jessica Sydney-Leigh

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The Blurb

Comedy, meets theatre, meets jazz-fusion. Join the Sleeping Trees as they disembowel western and gangster movies in ways only they can. With a live soundtrack by The Physics House Band. 'The birth child of Monty Python and the League of Gentleman' **** (Time Out). 'Perfect comic timing, razor sharp writing, and the most dynamic and talented performers I have seen in some time' ***** ( 'This has to be the start of something like Mitchell and Webb, Pegg and Frost, except they are a trio' **** (