As an autistic former horse girl, I was triggered by All the Fraudulent Horse Girls presented by Lazy Yarns. Told through the perspective of an 11-year-old girl, Audrey (played by Elise Wilson, Hannah Davidson and Lucy Wong), this show was so relatable; I’m not entirely sure it wasn’t an anamnesis of my childhood playing back at me. My entire body still aches from laughter. There were times I had to actively stifle my laughter in order to hear the show’s hilarious dialogue written by Mike Kennedy. For once my laugh wasn’t the loudest one in the room. Or maybe those other laughs were actually my inner child and I cackling in unison
The delirious way Audrey tells the audience about her love of horses immediately sucked me into an 11-year-old’s perspective. I think I can count the number of breaths Elise Wilson took on one hand as she launched into a horse girl monologue for the first iteration of the main character. Her portrayal of Audrey was so cringily relatable that it had me wanting to call my mother after the show and ask if she regretted exposing me to horses considering all she had to endure.
The Ensemble. Photography by Sophie Minissale.
Audrey interacts with bitchy horse girls at school who saunter on stage with all the poise that pre-teen girls think they have. The image of these bullies clip-clopping off stage is now burned into my memory, making me laugh out loud every time I reminisce. (Shout out to the editor who will probably need to do a thorough spell check as I’m writing this in-between outbursts of laughter.) Courtney Henri was particularly passionate in clip-clopping around the stage, her movement as Emma Stone (the horse, not the actor) was graceful yet childish, precisely as horse girls would move.
Director Mitchell Whelan developed a beautiful flow for the show, from high-speed childish rambles to slow-motion action as Audrey is kicked in the head by a horse; moving us into a fever dream that slowly burns like a western film. As we dive into this western film-like fever dream, we see costumes that look exactly like how an 11-year-old thinks people would dress in the dessert. Bright blue shirt with a brown fringed vest.
Courtney Henri, Lucy Won, Hannah Davidson. Photography by Sophie Minissale.
There’s a Spanish language exchange between two characters which had me trying to figure out if it was satire, a caricature, or tongue-in-cheek portrayal of those who appropriate Mexican culture. It was spoken like an 11-year-old reading the language for the first time without ever hearing it; so much so that a native Spanish speaker who came to the show with me couldn’t figure out what they were saying.
You could tell this ensemble were enjoying their time on stage. There were some moments where actors struggled to maintain a straight face and I couldn’t blame them. The fact that they could even recite their lines without bursting into laughter is a testament to their skill.
Elise Wilson and Courtney Henri. Photography by Sophie Minissale.
Audrey could have been 11-year-old me over a decade ago, however, references to colonialism and other modern idioms gently peppered throughout pulled it into 2023 while still maintaining the possibility that I could be looking into my own past.
But don’t be mistaken thinking this is only a show for horse girls. After the applause, all but one of the cast left the stage, with the final Audrey monologue delivered by Hannah Davidson. This monologue resulted in a fully grown man, accompanying me to this show, bursting into laughter and remaining unhinged for the remainder. He nearly fell out of his chair. Did I mention that there was excessive laughter from the audience? I’m yet to recover, my stomach still hurts from all the laughter. Not to overshadow the subtle queer references of girls calling other girls “really nice” eliciting smirks. As outlandish as it was, these subtle moments in the script satiated my attention to detail.
All the Fraudulent Horse Girls is on now at The Blue Room Theatre until Jan 28.