Winners and Losers
North Country Theatre’s production of ‘The Rocking Horse Winner’ at Husthwaite Village Hall enthralled the full house with a mixture of stage magic and compulsive performances. The drama revolves around a young boy, Paul, whose father loses money quicker than his extravagant wife can spend it. Receiving affection rather than love from his mother, Paul retreats into a disturbed existence where the house itself echoes the parent’s constant arguments. Introduced into horse racing and betting by the gardener he discovers he can predict winners by entering a trance like state whilst riding his rocking horse.
Desperate to make his mother happy, his winnings are diverted secretly to her by his uncle but squandered as quickly. His experiences render him more and more psychotic until he is confined to a mental hospital, a mass of tics, twitches and incoherent ramblings.
What made this compelling was that the cast, Mark Cronfield (the boy Paul), Nobby Dimon (psychiatrist Dr Langman), Victoria Brazier (Pauls mother), Thomas Frere (the gardener Basset) and Simon Kirk who played Paul’s uncle Oliver, were utterly convincing. Digitally projected imagery, inventive props where hat stands became steering wheels, abstract sound and music and the atmospheric use of lighting belied the fact that this is a small touring group who pack everything into a white van.
This brings us to the losers.
Well, potentially us. In a centuries old tradition this group bring real drama to small communities and we are in danger of losing it. Not that we don’t value it, we do and a packed village hall is testament to that. The Arts Council has cut it’s funding to this and other small theatre groups and North Country are trying to obtain financial support from schools, councils, individuals, charities etc. in an attempt to maintain it’s programme. If you missed this performance, information about it’s next tour as well as about the company itself can be found here: