The Rocking Horse Winner

Aug 13 2015 | By More

✭✭✭✭✩   Unsettling

Paradise in the Vault (Venue 29): Sat 8 – Sat 15 August 2015

At 30 minutes long, The Rocking Horse Winner from Bracket Productions might only be a bitesized fringe show, but it definitely has some teeth.

Based on the D H Lawrence short story of the same name, The Rocking Horse Winner is an unsettling tale of desperation and unhappiness.

The Rocking Horse Winner. Photo Bracket Productions

The Rocking Horse Winner. Photo: Bracket Productions

A loveless middle-class family, with no luck, sits on the brink of financial ruin. Outwardly successful, the family is anything but – and the growing anxiety this causes in the house manifests into a supernatural force.

Pushed to action through the constant whispering of the house, the young son Paul (Nuri Syed Corser) takes action into his own hands by betting on the horses, aided by Bassett (Matthew Topping) the awkward family gardener.

This seemingly straightforward tale takes on a eerie dimension when it is revealed how Paul gets his betting tips. Corser is hauntingly intense as he plays Paul on his rocking horse, transfixed and yet vacant as he enters his clairvoyant state. As he gets drawn deeper into this state it starts to take its toll. Is the sacrifice really worth the win?

Paul’s mother and uncle, played by Matilda Graham and Chris Paddon, are the only other major central figures. Graham plays the mother with a disinterested apathy, while Paddon exhibits at least an interest in Paul and his talents.

carefully selected

Like the tale itself, Varun Swarup’s direction seems subtle. And yet, if you’re looking, it soon becomes apparent that everything has been carefully selected to create just the right effect.

Set within the Vaults under George IV Bridge, the production has an unnerving feel to it. The story is told partly through acting and partly through film projected behind the stage.

Although at first the film seems comical and a somewhat strange choice for the production, it soon acts to disassociate the outside world from the inner household accentuating the anxiety in the piece. The protracted darkness of the scene changes further add to the uneasiness and very simplistic sound effects heighten the brooding atmosphere.

While Bracket Productions version of The Rocking Horse Winner might not be to everyone’s tastes, it achieves what it sets out to do creating a sinister, supernatural and overall surreal experience.

Running time: 30 minutes
Paradise in the Vault (Venue 29) 1 Merchant Street, EH1 2QD
Saturday 8 – Saturday 15 August 2015
Daily: 22.30
Book tickets on the EdFringe website:
Company website:


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