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Theatre 503 presents

 

Wild Horses

 

by Nimer Rashed

 

Directed by Nadia Latiff

 

Theatre 503

 

15 June - 10 July 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

A review by James Richards for EXTRA! EXTRA!

Part coming-of-age drama, part metaphysical puzzle, Wild Horses by Nimer Rashed is an engaging piece lit up by several superb performances.

Seventeen-year-old Ellie Porter (Jessica Clarke) wakes on a hospital bed with a start. A doctor (Tom Kanji) leans over her asking her questions before discharging her - confused and with a touch of amnesia. Her parents arrive to collect her, and after her Mum (Amanda Daniels) furiously scolds her for running away, we begin to see the purgatory from which Ellie has tried to escape, while a Rubix cube, turned over in the hand of the doctor hints that all might not be what it seems. The set (Lorna Ritchie) is reminiscent of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, futuristic and clinical.

Clarke is a gifted actress, and her portrayal of Ellie, confused by life and trapped by her friends is a pleasure to watch. She emits that forcefield of mid-teen self-absorption that we all know from personal experience, when hormones run riot and the reality of the world is finally beginning to dawn. She’s frustrating to watch, in the right way, as she refuses the questioning of her friend Zoe (Jade Anouka) as to where she’s been for six months – we are desperate to know, but she’s desperate not to tell us.

Set changes are conferred with a hugely impressive economy of means. Flaps are opened up, fold-down tables revealed and suddenly we’re in a tight, oppressive apartment, the frame of Ellie’s stultified existence. Ellie’s father Paul (Patrick Toomey) is initially a monster – obsessed with puzzles, utterly cold and seething with aggression. It’s a focused and genuinely threatening performance, but not one without texture. When Paul takes a phone call from a work mate, he chats jovially to him off-stage, jocund and relaxed. He then reappears and to the females in his life mumbles, ‘I’ve got to… ‘, before leaving abruptly - it’s a sharp bit of writing, which Toomey makes full use of.

Jade Anouka is another serious talent - lithe, mercurial with a good instinct for comedy, she’s serves as more than a good foil for Clarke. Ellie’s boyfriend Darren (John Trindle) is heart-warmingly earnest as Ellie’s admirer desperate to get her attention by sporting his grandfather’s hat, pipe and a rude-boy piercing. I liked his character, although, he seemed to disappear two thirds of the way through, when the plot takes a handbrake turn towards left-field.

I was excited by the prospect of the metaphysical threads being tied up in the final few scenes, since Rashed had skilfully distracted us with his assured vignettes of growing up in a boring town. When the veil is lifted, I was a mite disappointed with the results, possibly because I had enjoyed the preceeding material so much. However, it’s hard not to admire these filmic aspects of a boisterous and effervescent piece of theatre.

 

 

www.theatre503.com

Theatre503 at The Latchmere

503 Battersea Park Road

London SW11 3BW

020 7978 7040


Tickets £9-14

 

 

 

 

 

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