Reviewed by Lauren Donikian
With a giant pink rocking horse, a stripper pole, and iridescent walls you are bound to have a good time, right? Well. Yes, actually!
Written by Eloise Snape, Pony is the story of woman who isn’t sure if she is ready for what the future holds for her. Sharing stories about her friends and family, events that have occurred and a different kind of therapy that no one will expect. It is a story about love, acceptance, and hope.
Hazel, played by Briallen Clarke is an energetic, sometimes selfish, 30 something year old with some issues. She is also loveable, relatable and I want her to be my best friend. Wearing a maroon-coloured cowboy outfit with white fringing, a glitter pink hat and matching boots Hazel is a sight to behold. I promise this is the only spoiler I will give… Her wattle bottle matches her outfit! Clarke is invigorating to watch. So much so that I was convinced this story was hers. Morphing into many characters and making such a stark contrast in each of them that you already know who she is portraying. Clarke makes a lot of clever choices that really help shape the story. She doesn’t hold back and gives her whole body to this performance. She interacts with the audience, uses the full space of the stage and fine, second spoiler… mounts the rocking horse. The multipurpose set piece allows Clarke to represent the passing of time by turning the rocking horse. You can sense her mood in the way she moves it, leans into it, and sits on top of it. She is a master of her craft expressing a plethora of emotions, acknowledging her audience and has great comedic timing.
It would be remiss of me to not mention the incredible talents of all involved. Director, Anthea Williams did such an outstanding job of helping Clarke create and define the characters. Set and costume designer Isabel Hudson created a playground for Clarke to explore, using the rocking horse in many ways. It was at times a library, rooms in a house and a hospital. Composer and sound designer, Me-Lee Hay used music to highlight some of the most fun moments. With sounds effects enhancing the poignant ones. Lighting also played a big part in this production with pink hues, disco lights, and blackouts each lending themselves to the important moments. The cues were spot on and not a beat was missed. The use of the spotlight should be used as a caution sign, but in a good way. Snape has written this so cleverly. Using callbacks, familiar places and easily recognized tv references for the laughs and raw truth and vulnerability in the heartbreaking moments that allowed us to get to know Hazel better. The pacing, the repetition, and quick quips made this 100-minute play feel like it was 10 minutes long. If you play close enough attention you will see hints of what is to come. Just as you are on the edge of sobbing, you laugh, and a space is created in your heart for the pure joy that is about to follow. I wanted more.
I could go on and on about this incredible play, but honestly it would be better to witness it for yourself. Galloping until the 17th June, Pony will provide you with a natural high. If you are looking for a relatable, hilarious, and honest play this is the one for you.