Review: Mare Rider

Written for The Stage

With more freedom than ever before, 2013 is surely the best time to be a woman yet levels of female anxiety have never been higher. Leyla Nazli’s intelligent new play probes this dilemma with an unsentimental and illuminating sensitivity, pierced through with a no nonsense wit.

Nazli studies the Turkish myth of Elka (Kathryn Hunter), a fierce warrior woman who appears to new mothers, having stolen their children. Here she has travelled the world “…skipping over the magnificent Alps to the end of nowhere – Homerton Hospital in Hackney” to visit Selma.

Hunter treads and twirls around the white sterile hospital room with a fierce intensity – she is a ruthless interrogator. But with a softening of her eyes, Hunter’s talons become caressing hands and we see Elka is also a healer who purges guilt and teases out forgiveness.

As Selma, Anna Francolini is a crisp bundle of roaring emotions. At points in her desperation she is as wild as Elka is herself, at others she cowers into the foetal position of the baby she will never see.

Mehmet Ergen’s empathic production gives space for Matthew Flynn’s kind husband to express his grief while Ben Walden and Dick Straker’s evocative projections bring a little magic to Matthew Wright’s utilitarian but stylish set.

Runs until 16 February. For more information go here.

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