Rider Girl is a play that works as a play and a pep rally all the while drawing analogies to the game of life. I can only imagine how it plays in Saskatchewan. Don’t get me wrong, the Ottawa audience was thoroughly entertained by creator/performer Colleen Sutton but a rabid CFL fan that had never seen a play in their life would be equally drawn to this piece that succeeds on two levels.
Sutton’s infectious enthusiasm pulls the audience in to the game, but it is the parallel that she draws to life’s four quarters and the flags that fall on the field of life because of financial and emotional pitfalls, that will cast the spell on the avid theatre goer. It is incredible how people get so ecstatic or crestfallen over the triumphs and disasters of their team and yet play tight defence on their personal problems when they should be calling on help from the team.
Although Sutton plays several roles well, it is as Rider Girl herself that we see the real heart of this play. To family and friends it is almost always going real well, while her personal life is falling apart. Most of us put our heads in the sand at one point or another or wear a mask to hide our feelings. Whether you watch reality TV or football to clear your head doesn’t really matter. We need downtime from our own life and a way to blow off some steam to release us from our burdens.
Director Janet Irwin has allowed Sutton’s heart and spirit to come through. The synopsis says that a prairie girl is seduced into sports fandom. I think it would be great to bring a football fan that has not been to a play to Rider Girl and see if we can’t seduce some jocks into a love of theatre. Game on! Go Theatre!