Created with: Leentje Van de Cruys
Reviewer: Helen Jones
Some of the second year students from the University of Salford Drama course have been working with Belgian actress and theatre maker Leentje Van de Cruys to produce these two short pieces of theatre Whoaaaaa Steady! and Horse.
The first piece Whoaaaaa Steady! has been inspired by anthropologist Kate Fox’s book ‘The Racing Tribe’ and looks at both the horses and humans found around the racecourse – their rituals, etiquette and behaviour. Six female actors, Georgia Barrett; Charlie Joachim-Farrow; Paige Gadsby; Rohan Jenkins; Ali Wilson and Hannah Whiting, take on the rôles of the horses, clad in black with silver tinsel wigs, paddded bustles and tails. Opening with the sound of hooves, the show quickly progresses into a surreal display of equine behaviour.
The humans are all portrayed by two male actors, Joseph Kisby and Oliver Tennant. Initially wearing no more than black trunks, they change jackets, hats and props to become the people who watch or interact with the horses. Both have ecomedic timing and show excellent memory and reaction when going through dance movements either on command or as the accompaniment to a piece of music. Especially funny was the choreography to the track Rawhide.
Music is cleverly used throughout. From The Osmonds’ Crazy Horses through to The Pussycat Doll’s Don’t Cha the female horses show off a variety of dancing skills. There is also a good use of tap (performed by one of the actors) to provide the staccato soundtrack to a carefully choreographed section.
Whoaaaaa Steady! is light-hearted and fun to watch and includes a couple of standout performances from these talented young actors.
The second piece, Horse, is a one woman monologue performed by Leentje Van de Cruys herself. Wearing nothing more than red high heels and a horses head she is a woman who believes that she is a horse. However not only does she see herself physically as a young foal named Bessie, she imagines herself to be Don Quixote’s ancient mare Rocinante. Bessie is a very strange horse as she doesn’t particularly like being among other horses, instead she prefers being in the pub, drinking beer and talking to humans. But she is frustrated by the human’s obsession that she can talk (and their reminiscences about Mr Ed) rather than what she wants to talk about.
There is an underlying message here – it is a very accurate description of someone who stands slightly outside what our culture thinks of as the norm. She feels that she only needs to imitate Rocinante in order to become her and that beauty which is seen by only one person is untouchable and can never disappear. She does not need the world to love her so long as there is that one person who loves her despite everything.
The combination of these two shows makes for an interesting if rather surreal evening but it is good to see a showcase of some great young talent entering the profession.
Reviewed on 24th February 2015