Friday, November 07, 2014

Girls do love their horses! Playing off stereotype to great advantage...

Sascha Streckel and Horse Girls (Dangerpants Photography)

Horse Girls
Annex Theatre
through November 19, 2014

Young girls fall in love with horses. That is so ubiquitous it's almost more than a stereotype. Do young boys do the same? Not being one, I just don't know, but having three younger brothers who did not seem to be gaga about horses, while I was, my small sampling indicates, "no." Not that boys dislike horses, but girls seem to obsess about them.

This stereotype is on full display with Horse Girls by Jenny Rachel Weiner at Annex Theatre on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. A large cast (for a one-bedroom show) of seven young women takes the reins and gallops away with the script. (I just can't not do this.)

Ashleigh (Sascha Streckel) is your typical rich bitch queen middle-schooler who rules with more than an iron fist over her Lady Jane Ladies Horseback Riding Club. She lives across from the stables and considers them hers. She "shares" them with her club members, but never lets them forget that it is through her permission that they get any contact with the horses. 

Tiffany (Elizabeth Grant), little sister Robin (Rachel Brow), Margaret (Anastasia Higham), and Camille (Pilar O'Connell) gather for their weekly meeting during which they read their own poetry, recite mantras, and get ready to penalize Brandi (Kasey Harrison) for being LATE! Camille brings along her cousin Trish (Erin Bednarz) who stands in for the audience looking on in silent amazement at their obsessive behavior. It's possible Trish is seeing this side of Camille's behavior for the very first time.

Directed by Norah Elges with the complete seriousness this snarky material deserves, the 12 year olds breathlessly fall in line with their leader Ashleigh until Brandi brings news of calamity. Pandemonium ensues and the girls try to find a way to reach their God: Anne Romney, she of horse-riding fame, to rescue them. When they can't reach her by phone, they sing to her. Not surprisingly, this doesn't quite work.

This short one-act (about 55 minutes) ends improbably (and I don't want to spoil that), and there is so much to like, one can wish there were a smarter ending. But the bemused faces and chuckles in the audience showed the experience to be voyeuristic and perplexing, which means it seems like Ms. Weiner really gets current middle-school mean girl obsession.

A fantastic pink horsey bedroom set by Jenna Carino and costumes by Devon Allen, lights by Ryan Dunn and sound by Shane Regan combine to support the fun. If you have an evening free, try to see this. It's a hoot.