Login

The Arbor Review

Image for The Arbor

A documentary charting the life of Bradford-born playright Andrea Dunbar, from the performance of her first play to her tragic early death.

★★★★

Rita, Sue And Bob Too! writer Andrea Dunbar is the subject of this fascinatingly original docu-drama. A single mum living on a Bradford council estate, she penned her first play at 15; her next was made into the hit ’80s film. Yet she died, at 29, in the local pub. By focusing on the children left behind, this paints a desperate picture of wasted talent and a neglectful mum whose addictive tendencies were passed on to her daughter with devastating results. Artist/filmmaker Barnard is daring: actors lip-synch to recordings of Dunbar’s loved ones, while archive footage shows the real playwright. Inbetween, The Arbor is staged on her estate. It shouldn’t work, but it does: an artsy yet accessible insight into working-class life.

Moving, bold, unconventional and impeccably staged, The Arbor is a worthy tribute to a powerfully artistic voice.