For Reel

The Arbor (2010)
January 13, 2012, 8:05 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Clio Barnard

Andrea Dunbar, a self-educated playwright brought up in a drunken housing project of Bradford, England, rose to popularity in 1977 with a play entitled “The Arbor”, which she had sketched into a school notebook with green ink at the age of fifteen. Her success carried on to “Rita, Sue and Bob Too”, later adapted into a feature in 1987, before dying of a brain hemorrhage on a barroom floor at the age of twenty-nine. She had three children with three different men out of wedlock and Lorraine, her half-Pakistani first, becomes the center of the The Arbor‘s second half. It is a bleak world, indeed, and as the tragedy unfolds, it becomes clear that each day spent in the environment welds another bar into the prison cell. There is little room for escape from the titular Arbor – even having created a spatial distance, the emotional scars resonate not only throughout a lifetime, but through generations. Director Clio Barnard stages the material by having actors lip-synch to pre-recorded interviews and perform pieces of Dunbar’s plays – a method known as “verbatim theater” – which creates a sense of foggy communal memory, painfully recalling a number of lives that were utterly devastated by circumstance.

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