Horses! Horses!, Wassail at Wells Little Theatre and touring

HOW do the legends of the Native Americans and the lives of villag­ers in rural North Somerset come together in a big fun night out aimed at saving the local pub?

You need to see Rina Vergano’s play Horses! Horses!, written for Wassail Theatre, to find out, and luckily for you, there will be a chance to do so in 2019.

The first tour of the play has just ended, in the bar of Wells Little Theatre where the first rehearsal was also held.  Packed audiences all over Somerset (and in Norfolk and Kent) have enjoyed this immersive three-hander on its run.  Most of the performances have been in the very pubs that the story highlights.

And in typical Wassail fashion, it confuses the audiences with a “soft start” – is this REALLY the play, or are the staff setting up for it?  Johnny, a struggling landlord, has organised one big fund-raising night to try to save the pub. He needs to raise a huge sum of money to pay his bills, pay the staff and buy in new supplies. It’s the worst possible moment for his wife Sue to walk out, but that’s what she’s done, begging a damp caravan from a local farmer.

The whole thing is (almost) played in real time at the pub, with the occasional freeze-frame moments and magic reality elsewhere. The Bristol-based playwright has ach­ie­ved a remarkable fusion of ideas, scooping in threats to local com­­munities posed by huge roads, pub companies, must-see “reality” television (night after night) with ancient and universal lore, human needs and the breakdown of communication fuelled by pressurised new technology.

But if it all sounds heavy, never fear. It’s all done – with the brilliantly versatile and natural acting of George Williams, Kesty Morrison and Eoin Slattery – in a relaxed atmosphere that even includes some Morris dancing.

Well done Wassail for another show that is firmly based in rural Somerset life, and brings theatre to places it doesn’t otherwise reach. Look out for next year’s dates.


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