Review by Edmond Malin
Planet Connections Theatre Festivity continues to present plays that raise awareness about global issues. Roly Poly Productions presents “Horse”, written and directed by Janet Bentley. The show is raising money for Girls Not Brides, an organization that works to end child marriage and to enable girls to fulfill their potential.
Have you ever felt frustrated by people’s expectations? Are you a career woman, sick and tired of men reminding you to smile? Do you dread your seemingly manipulative parents? If so, let “Horse” take you on a healing ride.
Meg (the prepossessing Rachael Schefrin) and Sam (the tried and true Peter Collier) are college best friends who are in business to develop exciting new products. As our story opens, the spacious set in the Flamboyan Theatre is full of obstacles to Meg’s sanity. Passersby accost her on her way to the office; this is all exquisitely choreographed by Gus Solomons, Jr. In this rat racified world, perhaps we can understand why Meg puts herself through the unnatural ritual of telling her reflection, “Meg is professional” and fixing her smile so she does not give anyone reason to call her a “bitch”. In the office, Meg and Sam sort through proposals from entrepreneurs. The market for eco-friendly maxi-pads is saturated, we are told. But don’t lose hope, for Eckart the Norwegian inventor (the windswept Linus Ignatius) has a great idea for a line of Life Care Products. This wild gentleman is in the neighborhood, so soon they are working on a strategy for his products. Eckart is not a scientist. He is a painter, whose work, seen later in the play, involves humans turning into animals and vice versa. Like some fabulously attractive Dr. Moreau, I thought. Maybe he’s a furry, muses Sam. When asked how he created his formula, he tells a story about catching a falling feather and watching his sister transform into a bird. Eckart has also looked at Meg’s hands and asked her if she plays the Welsh harp.
If any of this seems strange, at least it’s a step towards happiness for Meg, whose mother, Delia (the indomitable Nancy Wolfe) has been in a coma for some time. Perhaps this is why Meg, without telling Sam, tests Eckart Life Care Products on herself, and starts crossing boundaries she didn’t know she had. She floats out or Eckart gallery party and provocatively dances with a stranger out in the street. Sam finds her acting lascivious and oblivious, and brings her to her home. Only from Eckart does Sam hear that Meg has tried the products. And only from Eckart does Meg hear that Sam is in love with her. Like a banshee out of hell, Delia awakes from her coma. She may not be rich, but she has great Welsh to share with her daughter. Sam, try as he might, can’t compete with the fantastic things Delia says. Why does she call Meg Rhiannon, i.e. the legendary Celtic tamer of horses?
At a family gathering, we also meet Kristin (the red-hot Tatyana Kot), who is Eckart current business partner and former wife. Why did this couple change its arrangement? Why is Kristin now with Andor (the quite manly Demetrius Blocker)? If Eckart is also using his own product, is there a separate one for men? The riddle of the Scandinavian lotion—if there is a solution, mind you—is one I will let you enjoy when you see the show. It may make you change your mind about the bizarre things your parents tell you.
“Horse” has a lot that will inspire you. After seeing it, you may want to grab your dancing shoes, or maybe the Mabinogion (that red book of myths that Tolkien liked so much). Young man young man, what do you wanna be? you might ask your mirror. Dialect Coach Page Clements gives us believable Welsh and Norwegian characters. Costume Designer Janet Mervin helps dress the characters according to their inner selves. Janet Bentley leads her adventurous cast right through the eye of the storm of self-perception, crossing eons in the process. But you wouldn’t want to ignore your potential, would you?