The Little Pony
Reviewed – 14th June 2018
“they capture in equal amounts, the mundane as well as the unimaginable events that happen within a long-term relationship”
Every parent hopes and expects that when they drop their child off to school they will be happy and safe, and that their needs will be looked after. When you are informed that the whole school is bullying your child, how do you react? Especially when you are told that the onus is partially on the child for wearing what they deem an inappropriate backpack? In Paco Bezerra’s hard hitting play The Little Pony, it is the proceedings after such allegations that form the basis of the work, throwing up highly relevant arguments, and exploring issues many are facing today. Originally written for Spanish audiences, it has now been translated by Marion Peter Holt, allowing the English-speaking public a chance to witness the intensity of Bezerra’s writing.
It is inspired by the true-life incident that happened in North Carolina, in 2014, where nine year old Grayson Bruce was attacked verbally and physically for coming to class with a pink My Little Pony backpack. This resulted in the school forbidding the boy to wear the bag, rather than taking the correct measures against the bullies. Bezerra uses the horrific case to start a conversation about equality and morality, without forcefully trying to find a solution or easy answers.
Adopting the perspective of the boy’s (in this version Timmy) parents, The Little Pony offers a close-up view of the battle one couple goes through – with themselves as much as the outside world – to protect their child. Daniel (Paul Albertson) has a liberal yet also ‘brush things under the carpet’ attitude, leaving him oblivious to the severity of the situation until the last minute, where his anger finally gets the better of him, with adverse consequences. His wife Irene (Rachel Sanders) has more conservative ideals, believing in doing what the ‘majority’ expects, until she soon begins questioning her morals and capabilities as a mother. Both argue over their son’s wellbeing, whilst poor Timmy isolates himself, imagining another universe that protects him from the terrible reality, waiting for his parents to finally hear him.
Paul Albertson and Rachel Sanders do a terrific job as husband and wife, desperately trying to do what is best for their son. At times moments can feel forced and too theatrical, yet for the majority, they capture in equal amounts, the mundane as well as the unimaginable events that happen within a long-term relationship with authenticity, which this highly intimate play deserves.
Video Designer Enrique Muñoz adds a chilling tone to the production, making the central, wall-hanging portrait of Timmy eerily modify as the boy’s traumas worsen, giving a creepy Dorian Grey effect as the happy child in the picture starts to disappear.
With a mix of sensitivity and stark brutality Bezerra raises awareness of the difficulties and struggle in changing social expectations and the challenges faced if you lie outside what is considered ‘normal’.
Reviewed by Phoebe Cole
Photography by Elena Molina
The Little Pony
Cervantes Theatre until 30th June
Previously reviewed at this venue