Pony by Eloise Snape.
Directed by Anthea Williams. Production designer Isabel Hudson. Lighting design Verity Hampson. Composer and sound designer Me-Lee Hay. Stage Manager Jen Jackson. Performer Briallen Clarke. Griffin Theatre Company. The Courtyard Studio. Canberra Theatre Centre. June 22 – July 1. 2023. Bookings 62752700
Reviewed by Peter Wilkins
|Briallen Clarke is Hazel in Griffin Theatre Company's PONY
“A comedy so funny that you’ll need an epidural” the marketing slogan claims. From my very limited experience there is nothing that funny about an epidural. Eloise Snape’s Pony is all too bitingly real. Described as a coming of middle age story where Hazel (Briallen Clarke) at the age of 37 finds herself pregnant. Pony is a rite of passage for any woman who faces the dread and euphoria of an impending birth. Pony is certainly a comedy. This is obvious as soon as Clarke enters dressed as a cowgirl and nuzzles up to a huge Merry Go Round Rocking Horse on Veronica Hampson’s aqua set in the intimate Courtyard Studio of the Canberra Theatre Centre. Clarke plays all the characters in Snape’s sharply scripted and acutely observant play from Griffin Theatre Company.
Director Anthea Williams keeps
the action moving with imaginative use of the large rocking horse and the
intimate stage. But it is Clarke who carries the play brilliantly. She switches
character easily from the rather sugary Miss Twinkle at the Glebe Library Rhyme
Time for toddlers and their Mums. To the
squeals of delight from some females in the audience Clarke gets the male strip
moves down pat at the Bankstown Sports Centre.
Her wild voracious sex life lands damaged lovers in the RPA . And then
marries one of them! We meet her mother Clementine and her whisky nipping nan.
And she takes a real tongue lashing from her best friend Liv. It’s all grist to
the laughter and yes there’s a lot to find funny. That is until reality bites
the reality show addicted Hazel.
Playwright Snape knows only too
well the perils of pregnancy having been pregnant and given birth to her
daughter Winnie during the pandemic. As if giving birth isn’t stressful enough.
Being pregnant during the pandemic is an added anxiety. Hazel is fortunate to
have gymnastics instructor Trish as her midwife and wise, pragmatic Nan to
advise her. It is the camaraderie of best friend Liv, Nan, Trish and Janet (Miss
Twinkle) that is there to see Hazel through her terrifying experience. As the
spotlight focuses in on a relieved and enraptured mother atop the pony Hazel is seen as the lights fade gently
singing a nursery rhyme to her baby Esmae. The wheels on the pregnancy ride
have gone round and round in a production that is heartwarming and uplifting,
filled with laughter and tears and a wonderment at the miracle of the cycle of
Clarke’s versatile performance of
Snape’s authentic and entertaining script is given a lively production by
director Williams. Clarke is instantly
appealing and holds an audience enthralled and absorbed for ninety minutes. Pony is a simple but recognizable
testament to the courage of women who
give birth. Yes, Pony is a comedy. It
is funny but it is much more than that. It is a lesson in empathy. And like all
rites of passage, it is an awakening that every man should witness and every
woman should see. Above all Pony is a
wild ride through one sassy woman’s encounter with her destiny. Highly