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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 8, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 23
Wild Horses tells a 13 year-old's tale
Arts & Entertainment
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Wild Horses tells a 13 year-old's tale

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

WILD HORSES
INTIMAN THEATRE
(AT 12TH AVENUE ARTS)
Through June 24


Allison Gregory has created a play that turns the idea of a short story, told around a campfire, into a visceral experience and a solo performance. She crafts a memoir told from the point of view of a woman who has survived some difficult moments in life, yet who can remember a seminal summer at the age of thirteen and implies that that summer formed much of who she later became.

Dedra D. Woods takes on that role and Sheila Daniels makes sure that Woods' transitions into the various people intersecting with her teenage self are portrayed with clean, clearly individuated characters.

The woman at the bar has no name. She begins telling the story of her thirteenth summer by relating that there was a radio contest to 'name' 'A Horse With No Name,' a song by the band named America. It was released in 1972, so that links it to a very specific time. In fact, if the woman is supposed to be telling the tale in 2018, that would have to make her 59ish and Ms. Woods is not nearly 59. However, the atmosphere in this bar is a little unmoored in time, so maybe it's being told a few years ago, too. The indistinct nature of theatre time...while being very distinct.

The song, a beguiling and hypnotic poem, references freedom and horses and the idea that riding in the desert allows an escape from human pain and ridicule. As far as thirteen year olds go, many of us might consider that particular age as a fundamental moment in the shape of our lives. For this woman, that summer and horses are forever tied together.

In fact, the story she tells is of three young teens, herself, brash Zabby, and ditzy, accident-prone Skinny Linnie, feeling the outrage and social-justice urge regarding a horse farm outfit they think has captured wild horses, and they determine to set them free. Certainly, from an adult perspective, this adventure has plenty of gaping holes in it. But that doesn't exactly deter them from planning it anyway.

It's that seminal summer of challenging parental boundaries and trying things that sometimes we're lucky we've survived. The teens steal booze from their parents and mix it in vile concoctions, because the point is not the taste, right? It's just 'some of the red, some of the clear, and some of the brown.' Then, of course, they cover it up by putting any kind of liquids back in the bottles.

We feel drawn into the story because we recognize ourselves and our discoveries in it. It's got humor and pathos, difficult discoveries and trying to figure out a crazy, mixed up adult world.

Sound designer Erin Bednarz peppers the story with moments of music from the period, evoking a sound memory of classic rock tunes. Even those way too young to have lived then may well know these tunes from golden oldies radio.

Besides one small strange choice of staging with a mist machine adding nothing but confusion to the atmosphere, it's a strong piece with a singularly muscular solo performance. Woods nails the emotions of the teens and the dual role of the surviving adult telling her personal story.

For more information, go to www.intiman.org or call 206-441-7178.

Discuss your opinions with SGNCritic@gmail.com or go to www.facebook.com/SeattleTheaterWriters. More articles can be found at MiryamsTheaterMusings.blogspot.com.

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Seattle Opera's O + E a thrilling adaption of Gluck's Orpheus and Eurydice
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PNB's 'Love & Ballet' an exceptional reprise of great contemporary dance works and music
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Wild Horses tells a 13 year-old's tale
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Upstream Music Fest + Summit: My 10 favorite acts from the 3-day festival
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Seattle Humane - Pets of the Week
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Bigger conversations: Truth, lies and the pursuit of immortality all collide in Bart Layton's American Animals
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Documentary and docudrama collide with observationally prescient American Animals
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Movingly incisive Escape a heartbreakingly potent melodrama
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Pulpy Artemis a violently amusing retro thriller
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