Struggling semi-white-trash single-mom families are nothing new to the theatrical canon, nor should they be: they make for great drama. Drunk one-night stands with strange, domineering men that turn into lengthy, tainted-love relationships: those are no surprise neither. But The Secret Agenda of Trees handles the two with such a succulent grasp of language that Colin McKenna's play rises above its stereotypes and major dramatic cliches (like a drug overdose and rather restrained recovery). It also has one final trick up its sleeve: a gifted daughter who styles herself after Rosemary Clooney and lives in a fantasy world, but who also nurses her own addiction to a wannabe Salvatorian-gangbanger named Carlos (Gio Perez is, unfortunately, the one character in the play who doesn't surpass the stereotype). That's original, or at least Sarah Lord's brilliant portrayal of her is, flushed as it is between monologuing dream narratives and fearless real-world experiments. Make no mistake, Veronica is the heart of this piece, and she pumps with such ferocious strength that there's more than enough blood to circulate even through the limper, less defined vessels of the show.
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