Theatre Is Easy


December 13, 2014

Jenny Rachel Weiner’s new play Horse Girls takes place in the bedroom of twelve year-old Ashleigh (Olivia Macklin). When I think of the typical teenage girl’s room, I envision a few posters, a few books, a few movies, maybe even a few trophies or ribbons. Ashleigh’s bedroom is completely (and I mean completely) decked out in equestrian paraphernalia — photos of horses, a marked-up horse calendar, a rocking horse, horse plush toys, and a lovely view of the stables outside her bedroom window (Daniel Geggatt designed the set). Ashleigh is the president of the Lady Jean Ladies, a cultish all-female club dedicated to anything equestrian. Ashleigh leads the club with an iron fist, a nasty smile and calmly calculated cruelty. When club member Tiffany (Angeliea Stark) announces that she has been accepted to the Galileo Horse Camp for the summer, Ashleigh threatens her with expulsion from the club — apparently, missing more than two meetings in a row gets you kicked out. The meeting is suddenly interrupted by Brandi (Katie Lawson), who gives the girls terrible news: The Lady Jean Stables are going to be sold to make way for a strip mall, and their precious horses are to be killed and used for meat. The girls break down at this, to a heavy metal rendition of Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse”. They then try to summon Ann Romney to help them, and even call the White House in an attempt to get in contact with her


December 10, 2014

When you step into the cell theatre you are instantly transported to a 12-year-old girl’s bedroom in an affluent Florida suburb. Blue ribbons for equestrianism mingle among pillows embroidered with inspirational quotes. Horse photos accented by glittery puff paint decorate a small vanity. This is the lair of Ashleigh (Olivia Macklin), president of the Lady Jean Ladies, a club for adolescent horse enthusiasts. Jenny Rachel Weiner’s Horse Girls (now making its New York debut in earnest after a workshop at last year’s ANTFest) gives us a hilarious and terrifying peek inside one of these secret meetings. Be warned: This is not the special episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic that its outward appearance might suggest. In Weiner’s world, friendship may be magic, but it’s the kind one used to reanimate the dead and summon Lucifer. Beneath this play’s pink-and-white veneer bubbles a dark sensibility that, in its examination of adolescent gal pals, is far more Heathers than Mean Girls. If Ashleigh is the queen bee, Tiffany (Angeliea Stark) is second in command and the one serious threat to Ashleigh’s primacy. She’s the only other girl who owns her horse; the rest ride on a whole stable owned by Ashleigh’s family. These equestrian hangers-on include Tiffany’s younger sister Robin (Maddie Sykes) and Margaret (Kaley Ronayne), the brace-faced misfit Ashleigh suspects is a lesbian. There’s also early-bloomer Camille (Anna Baryshnikov), who has brought along her visiting Manhattanite cousin Trish (Eleanor Condo), much to Ashleigh’s chagrin. As president, Ashleigh is all about harsh enforcement of the rules.


December 18, 2014

There is a point at which Jenny Rachel Weiner’s Horse Girls becomes totally incoherent. This point — spoiler alert — comes well before one character brains another character to death with a golden horse-head trophy. The aggressor is Ashleigh (Olivia Macklin), the unhinged alpha of the Lady Jean Ladies tween group, which is meeting in her horse-theme, pastel bedroom to discuss all things equine. Her victim is Trish (Eleonore Condo), who isn’t even a member of the group but simply hanging out with her cousin Camille (Anna Baryshnikov). When it comes to girls, outsiders are always expendable. I’m all for a good braining. But it was sad to see Trish go; she had been an island of relatability in this addled preteen hothouse, her facial expressions cycling between condescending skepticism, terrorized disgust and what appeared to be the concentration of someone praying to be anywhere but here. Here in this case is the Cell, an aptly claustrophobic space (the front-row of the audience is essentially sitting in Daniel Geggatt’s pitch-perfect set) for Horse Girls, a 50-minute pop descent into madness directed by Sarah Krohn.