By Beki Pineda
SHE RODE HORSES LIKE THE STOCK EXCHANGE. Written by Amelia Roper; directed by Niki Tulk. Produced by square product theatre (performed at The Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut St.) through May 13. Tickets available at 303-440-7328 or www.thedairy.org.
A verdant blanket of grass surrounding a picnic blanket greets the audience as they arrive for this strangely-named evening of theater. Yet one of the female characters does appear—most improbably—to enjoy riding horses, while the other is indeed intimately involved in the stock market. And both of them, with their husbands, show up in this park for a “picnic” at the same time. One couple is relaxed and enjoying a quiet Sunday in the park, looking for dogs and enjoying ice cream. The other couple seems to be in distress, arriving with a full array of shopping bags and a floor lamp in their Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes.
As the afternoon progresses, their acquaintanceship is acknowledged. Amy, it appears, used to be a work colleague of Max before she left his investment bank to strike out on her own. This was back at the beginning of the housing crisis. It also appears that Amy was smarter than Max and understood what was happening, while short-sighted Max just went along. And therein lies the crux. The spouses of these two are only slightly aware of the past connection and the tense anxiety between the bankers based on recent events. They enter blithely into the polite dance of civility called for in an unexpected social encounter. Slowly and subtly, the truth comes out.
A talented cast gleans much humor from this awkward situation. Emily K. Harrison plays the wily Amy with Jihad Milhem as her husband, Henry. Andrew Horsford is the angry Max with Michelle Moore as his pampered, bewildered wife, Sara. Henry and Sara spend their time in the park eating grapes and Brie. Sara serves grapes from a silver gravy boat while Amy illustrates a point in her conversation by making a paper boat that promptly sinks in the nearby lake. The moral differences in the actions of all are revealed cautiously, as though they are still being judged. In the meantime, the audience is getting a big kick out of seeing the awkward minuet because we—living in the future—know how this little chunk of history played out.
You can always count on square product to provide, through humor, a thought-provoking evening of theater. This one is no exception.
WOW factor: 8