Investment bankers. Waffle cones. A lamp. Neckties. Moose heads. Dogs. Dogs in costumes. Laughing Cow Cheese. More neckties.
She Rode Horses Like the Stock Exchange, the fourth SUDS production of 2022, is a joyous reminder of comedy’s power to critique the status quo. Director Alex Bryant masterfully combines hilarity with heart to showcase the absurdity of love, gender roles, and late stage capitalism. With a script written by Australian author Amelia Roper, it is fantastic to see SUDS continuing to exhibit Australian works.
At the start of the Global Financial Crisis, we meet Henry (Georgie Eggleton) and Amy (Aqsa Suryana) on a date in their local park. He’s a wide-eyed male nurse; she’s a cutthroat, status-obsessed investment banker. When they are approached by old acquaintances, couple Max (Matthew Forbes) and Sara (Mia Achhorner), chaos soon unfolds.
Bryant’s decision to cast the show as both gender and race blind worked incredibly well. Having Georgie Eggleton (she/her) in the role of Henry not only served to accentuate the absurdity of gender roles, but also resulted in a unique portrayal of the character that differed from professional productions of She Rode Horses, where Henry is traditionallyplayed by male-identifying actors. Bryant has also littered the show with a variety of hilarious visual gags; one particular moment involving neckties left the audience in hysterics.
The four-strong cast of She Rode Horses hold their own remarkably well. All of the actors share great chemistry and complement each other well on stage. The skill on display was especially astounding given that the table read occurred just 17 days prior to opening night.
Georgie Eggleton is loveably naïve as Henry, bringing the male nurse to life with puppy dog eyes and a certain understated stupidity. Aqsa Suryana relishes in the candid cruelty of her character, delivering a performance that is as amusing as it is terrifying. The chemistry between Eggleton and Suryana is phenomenal, driving the upbeat pace of the production. Matthew Forbes’ comedic timing is phenomenal, on full display as he delivers some of the show’s best moments. Meanwhile, Mia Achhorner’s command of facial expressions is to be lauded, with her strained smiles and bulging eyes belying Sara’s desperate search for meaning.
The play’s production quality is equally amazing, especially given the team’s relatively small budget. Producer Trish Mina and the crew should be proud to have organised a work of this calibre given the incredibly tight turnaround. Jim Bradshaw’s costume design is fantastic; rich in warmth, the summer colours juxtapose darker moments of the play that address depression and failure. The set design by Bella Wellstead and Tahlia Curnow — specifically their chair-themed tree — is a standout. The sound design by Milly Kynaston and Jennifer Shin is engaging and evocative, particularly their eerie blend of an ambulance siren and the jingle of an ice cream truck.
She Rode Horses Like the Stock Exchange is nothing short of a success. Alex Bryant and their team have created a fantastic production that reminds us of the importance of SUDS and student theatre as a whole.