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Horse High, Bull Strong, Pig Tight

by Sarah Crane

Rob MacLean as Peter Stuart. Photo: Alanna

Horse high, bull strong, pig tight is a saying that embodies the meaning of life for Peter Stuart. It can make sense of any situation. Although he is not quite sure what it means he knows it is important.

Stuart, played by Rob MacLean, is the main character in Kent Stetson's one-man play, Horse High, Bull Strong, Pig Tight. He is an Islander in every sense of the word. He was born on Prince Edward Island, lived on it all his life, and for him, there is nothing quite so beautiful as a well-run Island farm, borne of hard-work. Peter Stuart, like so many people, is caught between the modest, Island way of life he used to know, and the threatening encroachment of technology, big business and all that it brings.

Horse High is an important story. It tells the tale, not just of an Islander, but of a man and the many stages of his life. And it's a wonderful look at Island life, and life in general. Though the play is touching and sad-a serious look at important Island issues-at the same time, it's a lot of fun. Peter Stuart, despite the cantankerous, old man that he tries to be, has a fantastic sense of humor.

The writing in this play has uncovered some great Island sayings. Phrases that left the audience roaring. And Rob MacLean delivers them perfectly. The accent that he gives Peter Stuart sounds just like some of the older men who hang out at the coffee shop down the street.

MacLean plays several characters in the play. Not only does he play Peter Stuart at more than four different ages, but he also becomes some of the main characters in Peter Stuart's life: his wife, father, step-father, brothers, and friends.

The depth of the Peter Stuart character in itself is impressive. He is a grumpy, old man, but he is passionately in love with his wife and his farm. He is kind and gentle to all the little animals that live around him. Seeing him at so many different ages of his life is fascinating. His character becomes so developed the audience feels like they have known him all his life.

Several times MacLean is two or three people at once, and the different characters he plays have conversation with each other. MacLean carries this off amazingly. He slips easily from one character to another with incredible skill. The physical exertion that it would take to do this entire play is remarkable in itself.

Horse high, Bull Strong, Pig Tight is a journey, through one man's life. When he discovers the meaning of that saying, everything comes into perspective, and Peter Stuart's life seems to make a bit more sense, even if it wasn't quite what he expected it to be. Horse High plays at the Arts Guild on Monday nights at 8 pm.

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