The Crying Tree
Broadway, Jul 2009, $22.95
In 1983 Union County, Illinois deputy sheriff Nate Stanley calls his wife Irene to inform her without warning that he accepted a position as a deputy post in Oregon. Irene is angry at her husband for not talking to her before he took the job with his Viet Nam buddy and frightened as she never was west of St, Louis. Still insisting he knows what is best for her and their two kids (teenager Shep and tweener Bliss), he relocates the family.
In Blaine, Oregon, fifteen years old Shep enjoys exploring the countryside and seems settled to the living on the West Coast. However, one day Nate comes home after a shift to find his son in their kitchen savagely beaten and shot in what looks like a robbery turned ugly; Shep dies in his arms. Stunned, Nate and Irene go after the accused cold blooded killer of their oldest child mechanic Daniel Joseph Robbin with cold blooded determination over the next two decades until he is executed by the state. During much of the obsession, Bliss becomes de facto caretaker of her parents as Irene lives for the devil’s death and Nate cannot find any solace. However, in 2004 with the execution date set, Irene knows she must see and forgive her son’s killer, whom she recently began exchanging letters with, if she is to move on.
THE CRYING TREE is a fabulous family drama that focuses on what happens to surviving loved ones when a violent unexpected tragedy occurs. The five key players in this calamity are fully developed in 1983 and in 2004; ergo the audience sees how much they each has changed over the two decades from the murder to the execution. Although a major “truism” twist will be seen early by everyone and feels intrusive, fans will appreciate Naseem Rakha’s engaging aptly titled character story.