My second visit to the Cervantes Theatre in Southwark was to see a piece of new writing by Paco Bezerra, translated by Marion Peter Holt: The Little Pony. Inspired by real-life stories, the play explores what happens when a young boy is bullied for taking a My Little Pony backpack to school.
Young Timmy’s teachers want him to stop using his favourite backpack so that it won’t be an excuse to pick on him. Daniel (Paul Albertson) and Irene (Rachel Sanders) approach the problem in different ways: Daniel wants to challenge the school and support his son’s right to use whatever backpack he prefers; Irene thinks the best way forward is to get rid of the backpack for good. Both parents want what’s best for their son, but aren’t able to agree on what that is, leading to much conflict. The two actors gave compelling and intense performances; at times I wished for a scene or two that wasn’t so intense, but this did serve to emphasise how important their son is to them.
Directed by Paula Paz, the play is performed inside a set of pink curtains evoking the colour of the backpack itself – pink, of course, not seen as a colour for boys. A digital picture of Timmy adorns the back wall, altering to reflect the direction of the story.
It’s a shame we don’t get to see Timmy himself and get his side of the story, although I imagine that this would be a very challenging role for any child to play. However, with only his parents on stage, we get a portrayal of a marriage and how differing views can affect a relationship.
The play took an unexpected turn that was certainly original, but which I wasn’t entirely convinced by. Still, it was a thought-provoking experience.