Theatre Review: She Rode Horses Like the Stock Exchange is a biting take on gender and power through the GFC

The GFC hit 10 years ago, yet it’s wave still lingers on. In a post GFC world, wages are stagnant, jobs are threatened, house prices skyrocket and global warming’s dark cloud hangs in concert. 10 years on, we’re still asking questions; how did this happen? Can it happen again? And, if so, who’s best equipped to manage it?

She Rode Horses Like the Stock Exchange is essentially a satire, but these best often hide more sinister or layered meaning. Amy (Matilda Ridgeway) is an investment banker spending another ‘Sunday Funday’ in the park with her partner, paediatric nurse Henry (Tom Anson Mesker). Ambitious and forthright, she’s just sold their apartment, upgraded to a mini-mansion at a steal, and put it in his name. After bumping into colleague/competitor Max (Dorje Swallow) and his wife Sara (Nikki Britton), they reluctantly share their picnic rug, and things turn sour when egos and bank balances collide.

Rather than opt for mere social commentary, the play cleverly explores gender, power and identity, and leaves little in the way of answers and neat ties. The setting of a lovely park is a genius device for a play about wealth and ambition; diffusing each character’s perceived power while setting them away from their daily den of greed and teams of yes-men. We’re forced to see each character as human – flaws and all – in a sunny outdoor setting on a Sunday, and revel in the layered metaphors of rolling grass, ice cream and the American Dream, all while another metaphorical bloodbath is beginning nearby. And on stage.

Performances are strong all round from the cast of four. Ridgeway’s Amy is complex, never fully revealing her true intentions or if she is manipulating her guests to advantage. Mesker is naïve yet strong as Henry, but it’s Swallow and Britton who steal the show with both comedy and depth. Swallow’s Max is equally confused, dumbfounded and arrogant, while still able to show a childlike honesty, while Britton tackles Sara with warmth, humility, and a spot-on Boston dialect.

The most curious thing about this play is that it so perfectly encapsulates the American vernacular, yet was written by an Australian. Amelia Roper has, albeit, lived (and succeeded) in the US for a number of years, yet her writing displays an insider’s view on American consumption and gender politics that’s far beyond her years.

She Rode Horses Like the Stock Exchange is at the Kings Cross Theatre until November 11th. For tickets and more details, head HERE.