Search

Theatre review: Mare Rider at the Arcola Theatre

17:13 31 January 2013

Anna Francolini and Kathryn Hunter in Mare Rider at the Arcola. Picture: Simon Annand

Anna Francolini and Kathryn Hunter in Mare Rider at the Arcola. Picture: Simon Annand

Archant

Gnarly and weird performance by Kathryn Hunter stands out in Leyla Nazli’s play about birth at Homerton Hospital

MARE RIDER

Arcola Theatre, Ashwin Street, E8

Three stars

Kathryn Hunter returns to her spiritual home at the Arcola, bringing her trademark brand of ‘weird’ that’s now so widely recognised it’s probably enough in itself to pull the crowds to this new play by relative newcomer Leyla Nazli.

Fans of the gnarly Hunter won’t be let down. Here, in Mare Rider, she captivates once again, this time playing a mythical Turkish figure with wild back-combed hair, tattered black leather clothes and plentiful opportunity to engage her unique raspy voice in dark and whimsical folkloric tales.

The 60-minute play is set in a sterile stark white hospital room in Homerton, where a bed with curtain and two uncomfortable-looking chairs occupy the stage.

Hunter’s Elka is one of two main female leads. She is known to some as a bad spirit who steals babies from brand new mums. She pays an ominous visit to Selma (Anna Francolini) who seems to be suffering in the aftermath of a troublesome (but not initially explained) birthing experience. Selma is demonstrably disturbed and we can never be entirely sure whether Elka exists or is a manifestation of her own demons.

Elka spins lengthy yarns about growing up in an abusive family some time long ago and far away. She speaks engagingly on her bid for freedom and riding bare back in the Anatolian mountains, and themes emerge, albeit very allusively, of feminism, 21st century living, motherhood and marriage.

Unfortunately the play gets stuck here. Two supporting characters - Mark (Matthew Flynn), Selma’s husband, and the nurse (Hara Yannas) – bring with them a sub-plot of sorts. But at this point it feels more like an after-thought.

The three stars really go to Kathryn Hunter, who makes the most of the material. Until February 16.

0 comments

Latest Entertainment Stories

Thursday, August 27, 2015
A still from Asylum

A 1972 documentary covering the psychiatrist’s controversial establishments where doctors and patients live alike is being released on DVD, finds Anna Behrmann.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Barrence Whitfield

Down’n’dirty, tough-talkin’ and soulful blues/rock’n’roll mash-up

Wednesday, August 26, 2015
The Dance of Reality. Picture: Pathe

Filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky looks back at his childhood in a surreal and unique way, even if it does all become a bit much for Michael Joyce.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Benedict Cumberbatch (Hamlet) in Hamlet at the Barbican. Picture: Johan Persson

Benedict Cumberbatch shines as the tortured prince and while too dark at times, Hamlet is worthy of the hype, says Bridget Galton

Most read entertainment

Competitions

Shop till you drop!

Home to top name brands at great prices, TK Maxx is more like a treasure hunt than a shop. Perfect for grabbing a bargain or some hidden gems, you arm yourself with a trolley and go wild.

Scones, jam and a cup of Earl Grey anyone?

Luxury boutique hotel Flemings Mayfair has recently launched The Drawing Room, London’s most stylish location for afternoon tea.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Islington Gazette e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24


Our trusted business finder