The TRU Actors Workshop opened their 2017/18 season with the thought provoking production Fresh Horses. The play was written by Larry Ketron and directed by TRU Faculty member Wesley Eccleston. Jeff Daniels starred as the lead character Larkin, a young man struggling with plans for the future and a relationship riddled with rumors and deceit.
Fresh Horses took place during the Spring of 1986 in an abandoned maintenance railroad station adopted as a hangout spot for young lovers and friends. The show focused on a group of individuals in their early 20s trying to find their place in society and the struggles that follow.
The production’s actors gave an eerily realistic performance of the challenges young people face. While Fresh Horses is set in 1986, the sentiment is relatable to today’s students.
Larkin, a young man in the midst of time off from university, was caught up in a whirlwind romance with a married woman who may or may not be 16 years old. The mysterious Jewel, a country bumpkin with little to her name, seduced Larkin and enlisted him to help her obtain an annulment from her naval husband.
The relationship between Larkin and Jewel had its fair share of protest. Larkin’s best friend Tipton, played by Aaron Foster, provided that source of conflict. Tipton and Sproles, a fifth year senior who has yet to graduate high school, informed Larkin of Jewel’s unsavoury past and less than innocent hidden life. While the rumors spread around the small town ultimately turned out to be true, Larkin held out on his love for Jewel as more than simply lust.
Fresh Horses also explored the clash of “class” in southern American countryside. Larkin and Jewel portray the
lower class with their education levels and lack of material possessions. The characters of Ellen (Santaya Stander), Chirsty (Emily Whalen) and Bobo (Katie Jones) demonstrate the opposite end of the spectrum with a more luxurious lifestyle and, in Ellen’s case, the advantages of her father’s well-earned fortune. There was a sense of otherness in the interactions of these characters, giving it a very realistic feel.
Daniels gave a convincing performance of a young man at the beginning of his identity crisis. His goals were shaken and his relationships were left hanging by a string. Fresh Horses left the audience humbled. This was definitely a show to demand attention and create emotion.