The Women with no name walks into a karaoke bar (a former Tastee-Freeze) in Anywhere, U.S.A. in 1996 packed with people who’ve been there for awhile.
She orders a drink, listens to the singers while observing the crowd, and as it slowly thins out sits at a table and starts talking about the summer of 1972 when “A Horse with No Name” was rockin’ the charts and a local radio station was running a contest to name it.
The winning name: Amirage. We never learn the woman’s name. But for the next 90 minutes or so of this coming-of-age story we learn a lot about her and what she and her two best friends Zabby and Skinny Lynny did that crazy summer of their 13th year.
It’s a summer filled with stress on the home front: her 14-year-old sister is sleeping with a married man in his 20s who’s moved back in with his parents while getting a divorce (so he says) and they aren’t using any birth control; her mother is having an affair with a man dying of cancer (so he says) and plans to leave her husband for him, and her dad is short tempered, uses his belt to discipline her, and spends a lot of time in the basement.
Why would anyone want to reminiscing about that?
Because it also was a summer of sneaking out of the house after bedtime, driving a car without a license nor driving skills, getting into the parents’ liquor cabinet, smoking pot, and fumbling around kissing and getting felt up by Mean Dean while longing so much for cute Dan-O.
In other words, pushing boundaries and running wild — just like horses — while the parents were occupied with their own problems.
And horses do become central to the story, as does a night time mission to free them, plus bad guys and the authorities.
Been there, done that? Then this play may be for you. But it’s not a story for everyone. Making bad choice after bad choice, jerks and flawed characters may kill the empathy for others.
Nine people with with no scripted lines chat, drink beer and take turns singing hit songs from the ‘70s, including “Desperado,” “Yesterday,” “Killing Me Softly” and “I Feel the Earth Move.” (Get to the theater 30 minutes early to enjoy the pre-show).
Bajou doesn’t just tells us the story, she plays all of the other characters by adopting their voices, speech patterns, stances and even Mean Dean’s pucker lips that rival Kylie Jenner’s.
She delivers a tour de force performance, making us laugh and possibly even shed a tear — as she does at one point.
New Jersey Repertory Company is at 179 Broadway, Long Branch. “Wild Horses” runs through March 25. Tickets are $46, $51 for front row seats and available at njrep.org or call 732-229-3166.