BWW Review: WILD HORSES at Intiman Theatre is a Wild Ride into Adolescent Memories
Wild Horses is a one-woman show that tells the story of one summer of her youth, a summer that changed everything. Summers used to be different. Kids and teens had to find their own ways to fill their time. With seemingly endless hours of opportunity and friends by our side, temptations and adventures awaited. Coming of age stories are always appealing because they are so relatable. The things we felt but didn't dare speak, the confusion and excitement of growing up - we've all been there. Playwright Allison Gregory takes us back to the summers of our youth. Although this story is specific, we know it; we can feel it too.
Dedra D. Woods commands the stage recounting this youthful adventure as a first person narrative. When necessary, she embodies the spirits and voices of the others in the story as well, and these are some of the funniest bits in the show. We never know the name of the main character, perhaps because that character is really all of us. We are invited into the story, to claim it, and remember our own stories. Woods' voice is at once soft and strong, resonant and retreating, hypnotic and harsh. The teenage years are hard, and none harder than those first few. In Woods we see the adult who is still the thirteen year old. They are not separate but one and the same.
The story Woods is telling includes her thirteen year old self, her best friends, Zabby, and Skinny Lenny along with the bully Dean, and crush, Don-O. It is the summer of a radio contest to name "the horse with no name" from the song by America. Their adventures that one summer include a bit of everything from sneaking alcohol, to peer pressure, to discovering a great wrong and trying to make it right. Like most teens, they confide in each other and not their parents. Their discoveries also include details of their parents' lives that they find shocking. They learn that everyone - parents, siblings, neighbors, and even themselves have secrets. The storytelling is powerful and vivid. Gregory's words and Woods' performance paint an almost movie-like scene before you.
Jennifer Zeyl serves as Artistic Director, Costumer, and Scenic Designer for the show. Her work is carefully crafted simplicity. Each piece is needed and used in multiple ways. A scarf becomes the knotted rope to climb out the bedroom window. The thoughtfulness and intention behind every item is apparent. They allow Woods to move about and tell her story in a full-bodied way that adds to the power of her words.
If you wanted to find a symbol for youth, there could be no better one that a wild horse, maybe even a horse with no name. For the horse is not specific, but rather representative of all youth. It has power, often unbridled power, and can be timid and bold. The eyes of a horse hold so many unspoken words, just like the eyes of teenagers. Despite having all been there once, adults have crossed a divide that makes to so hard to communicate with teens. This show reminds us that we each have our own past and hidden within are the universal truths of growing up.
Wild Horses is playing at Intiman Theatre through June 24th. For tickets or information, www.intiman.org.