Amelia Roper has written a sharp and funny play about the Global Financial Crisis and four people caught in the midst of a financial maelstrom. Exploring themes of feminism, the evils of capitalism, ego, privilege and relationships it is a substantial play with rich dialogue and crisp repartee.
Amy and Henry are having their fun day Sunday in their local New England park, reading the paper, eating ice-creams and discussing how people are losing houses in Florida, Detroit and New England.
Henry finds this sad. Amy is amused by the surprised looks of the photos in the paper of the people who have lost their houses. Amy works in the financial industry and has little sympathy for people who failed to manage their finances. She has a cruel and clinical view of the world.
There are nasty aspects to the characters in this play, reflecting the ethos that lead America and the world to its economic woes. Fortunately, this nastiness is cleverly balanced by the humorous exchanges and observations of the characters.
Amy and Henry see acquaintances Sara and Max strolling through the park and unsuccessfully try to avoid them. Sara and Max would similarly like to avoid Amy and Henry but feel obliged to join the picnic and talk about the weather and the possibilities of seeing cute dogs in the park.
The exchanges of the two couples simultaneously reveal a lot about these people and a lot about the economy and the workings of the banks in America leading up to the Global Financial Crisis. These exchanges are varied and complex. There is a lot of meanness, one-upmanship, patronising and conspiratorial glances but there is also empathy and hope.
Nell Ranney has directed a very engaging and intimate work. This is helped by Isabel Hudson’s set design. The park is represented by a small grassy mound covered in a gorgeous large rug. The park and the rug are in some ways the fifth and sixth characters of the play. The mound is in the middle of the theatre space with tiered seating on either side. The fact that you are inside a pub, the Kings Cross Hotel, is an added bonus.
The actors all gave robust and convincing performances. I enjoyed Nikki Britton’s performance as the brilliant and dispassionate Sara. Dorje Swallow as the chauvinistic but clueless Max, Tom Anson Mesker as hesitant and empathetic Max and Matilda Ridgway as the vibrant and privileged Amy.
A lot of work has gone into Ben Pierpoint’s sound design which ably assists the production and provides a pleasant backdrop. The simple and effective lighting is by Christopher Page.
Recommended. Rocket Productions’ SHE RODE HORSES LIKE THE STOCK EXCHANGE opened at the Kings Cross Theatre on the 25th October and is playing until 11th November.