Arcola Theatre

Mare Rider

Leyla Nazli

Directed by: Mehmet Ergen

Elka is the sinister Mare Rider, in myth she haunts new mothers and rides bareback through mountains and across the plains of Anatolia.

Selma is about to give birth at Homerton Hospital in Hackney, Elka takes her on a fantastical journey, probing the spaces between Selma’s nightmarish visions and the reality of those around her.

Mare Rider is the latest play by Leyla Nazli.

Leyla was one of the ‘Royal Court Fifty’ writers chosen to celebrate the theatre’s 50th anniversary year and where her first play Silver Birch House had its debut reading before premiering at Arcola in 2007.

Praise for Silver Birch House:

★★★★ Time Out

★★★★ The Stage

★★★★ Evening Standard

★★★★ The Metro

“A powerful piece of personal and political history” Time Out

“Chekhovian family saga” Fiona Mountford



“Hunters performance is memorable…Anna Francolini conveys Selma’s torment with emotional intelligence. The production is majestic and moving. Nazli’s talent lies in drawing together contrastive version so feminism, with simplicity and style…and the combination of myth and reality seems the perfect backdrop for a debate that continually asks: can we have it all?”– Armdeep Sohi


“A chameleonic performance by Kathryn Hunter as Elka…who seems simultaneously to be channelling the Jungian unconscious and Lemmy from Motörhead” – Andrew Dickson


“…an intense and unsettling play. The superb Francolini coveys a wonderfully strained integrity… (and) there’s strong support from Matthew Flynn as Selma’s beleaguered husband” – Fiona Mountford


“A hallucinatory and disturbingly revisionist feminist fable for our time” – Carole Woddis


Grippingly grim and receives stark presentation in Mehmet Ergen’s stylish production – Howard Loxton


Enigmatic…a bed time story with a difference. Elka is also reminiscent of Caryl Churchill’s folkloric death portent-cum-storyteller ‘The Skriker’. Vivid poetry…a powerful talisman for a question that’s as pertinent to today’s women as ever – the nature, and price, of freedom.


“Leyla Nazli’s intelligent new play probes this dilemma with an unsentimental and illuminating sensitivity, pierced through with a no nonsense wit. Anna Francolini is a crisp bundle of roaring emotions” – Honour Bayes


“Leyla Nazli has created a slick, interesting and well written piece that is brought to live by four confident performers led by Kathryn Hunter. Mare Rider is an intriguing and mysterious production that blurs the line between dreams and reality by incorporating storytelling, dance and physical theatre” – Elizabeth Vile


“Anna Francolini matched (Kathryn) Hunter’s performance with great vulnerability, sadness and also desperation. The exchanges between her and her husband Mark played by Matthew Flynn were deeply moving” – Melissa Palleschi


“Kathryn Hunter’s performance is a force of nature in the most literal sense, whipping up bedsheets in a hurricane of weedy vigour – slight, she still exerts physical threat, her rasping voice addictively mesmerising…Hara Yannas’s beautifully judged nurse Claire evoke(s) a different kind of pragmatism. Couched in myth, whimsy squats darkly at the heart of this play; her magic has all the comfort of Smarties offered in place of anaesthetic” – Alice Saville

Monday – Saturday evenings at 7:30pm – £18 (£14 concessions)

Opening performances (22 – 24 January) – all tickets £14

Saturday matinees at 2:30pm (2, 9, 16 February) – £16 (£12 concessions)

PLEASE NOTE: There is no performance on Thursday 14 February