Power Dynamics in a Teen-age Horse Club
One of the delights of Annex Theater is their “off night” productions, taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday nights; the current Off Nighter, Horse Girls by Jenny Rachel Weiner, is no exception.
Ostensibly the Horse Girls is about a group of middle-school female equestrians, who have a meeting of the Lady Jean Horse Club, dominated by Ashleigh, the daughter of a stable owner, who controls access to the horses. However, that is only the setting, the real message of this show, was how narcissists, not unlike Charles Manson, or certain individuals lurking in middle school, high school or in PTAs, manipulate the vulnerable through fear of expulsion from a group.
That is…until she goes too far and sets up a test for the group, resulting in an open revolt with disastrous results.
In my opinion, choosing an equestrian setting to present these themes did not work that well, since most teen-age equestrians, in my experience, are less silly than these girls and not in the least interested in boys. (riding provides a lot of sexual stimulation) However, the depiction of excessive peer pressure, and unhealthy group dynamics was illuminating.
Although extremely saccharine, the set had all the frills of a teen-age girl’s room, plus all the ribbons and trophies, which equestrian girls mount on their bulletin boards and picture railings. Any production with all female voices gets a bit shrill and particularly in the first part of the show, the high pitched voices were a bit off-putting, although the director, Norah Elges assembled a strong cast.
One thing I like about the Off-Nighters, is that they are short, Horse Girls was only one hour. In this show, there is a snide song and dance number about an almost famous First Lady equestrian ( not Jackie) which is not to be missed. Annex is located in the Pike/Pine corridor where you can grab a bite to eat in an un-crowded restaurant, have a good laugh during the middle of the week, to help you get through the week.
Horse Girls. Annex Theater. 1100 E. Pike St. (Corner Pike and 11th) Pike/Pine Corridor, South Capitol Hill, Seattle, 98122. Tues, Wed thru Nov 19th www.annextheater.org