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BrumHour was invited to see Cowbois by The RSC.
By David Fox twitter.com/DavidFoxTheatre
Review: Cowbois at The RSC Swan Theatre
“Thought-provoking and funny”
Directed by Charlie Josephine and Sean Holmes, written by Charlie Josephine
A sleepy town in the old American West. With men all out joining the gold rush, the women find ways to while away their days. One day bandit Jack Cannon, on the run from bounty hunters, explodes into the town and life is never the same again. Jack is here and ‘queer’ and brings about a gender revolution!
Cowbois is a surprising new play from Charlie Josephine. Part western, part disco, part rock musical – this new play is thought-provoking, entertaining, and very funny! I was expecting a very traditional set Western, so the fusion of music and modern dance, and lighting effects certainly made it a fun production to watch. Never before has the wafting of a hand-fan seemed so funny!
Cowbois features a fantastic ensemble cast: While Sophie Melville and Vinnie Heaven are both excellent as main couple Miss Lillian and Jack, there is excellent support from Lucy McCormick as Jayne (with some fantastically hilarious facial expressions), Emma Pallant as Sally Ann (very prim and proper and another very funny performance), and Paul Hunter as drunken Sheriff Roger Jones. The production also features Shaun Dingwall, from Doctor Who, as Miss Lillian’s estranged husband Frank.
Set Design for Cowbois was simple, yet very effective. An old saloon bar, shell-shaped footlights evoking the saloon stages of the old west, with the wooden beams of The RSC’s Swan Theatre perfectly complementing the set. Costumes too were effective, starting off as very traditional becoming more colourful and bolder as the gender revolution takes place – the Sheriff looked fantastic in his dress!
I think it’s fantastic that The RSC strives to do more than just put on Shakespeare with contemporary plays, by developing new talent, commissioning brand-new new plays by modern authors, and producing plays that reflect current aspects of today’s society. Cowbois is such a play – to make you think about (to quote the play) how people can match inside and outside, and about how we perceive, and even treat others. I also love seeing new work at The Swan Theatre – some of my favourite RSC productions in this intimate theatre.
Cowbois is now playing at The RSC Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon until 18th November 2023. Book tickets at rsc.org.uk/cowbois.