Review: Cowboy Mouth
Now for my first 2011 Hollywood Fringe Festival review. The first show I saw was Cowboy Mouth. It’s an old Sam Shepard play . This production was directed by Sam Hunter of San Diego (not to be confused with the other Sam Hunter of Iowa in the theatre community, ha!).
The Fringe is a non-curated arts festival for emerging arts in Los Angeles, and I heard someone say yesterday that she sees no point in doing previously-done plays. I disagree; the festival may be for new arts, but really, ours accepts absolutely anything and everything. It is all welcome, of course. And I rather enjoyed seeing this play. I had never seen this one before. It’s funny how sometimes- or at all times- one experiences something at just the right moment in life. I once read someone’s words that a book may sit with one a long time unread, and when one finally gets around to reading it, the material is just for you, as though only having been written just then, and as though it had been previously devoid of content, so that it could speak perfectly to one Now. So it was with this play; so it is often with any art. The Universe is synchronous like that. The play, I said sarcastically in review to my friends afterward, totally didn’t remind me of my fucked-up relationship with my own artist ex.
The chemistry between the actors, if one might call such a perfectly, yes, fucked-up interplay chemistry, was excellently executed. In them I could see the foibles of Man and Woman, cringing inwardly to see them treating one another with such careless, ungrateful, taking-for-granted, insulting behavior, rather than paying proper human loving attention. Then I would feel deeply my resonance with their love (as it was) and their insistent, bestial clinging to one another.
Their physicality was always good; I never disbelieved it. I especially enjoyed the choreographed movement at the very beginning, as the couple entered their abandoned hovel and moved their bodies ecstatically, joyfully, passionately to the rock music they played. I feel such movement should be used far more often in art- no, in Life. I fell into the feel of the play immediately. Also, I do so adore women dancing with long flowing hair flung exuberantly up and down… Lord.
The lighting for this intimate production was minimal but well-used, even reinventing a prop in the play for this purpose, which I liked. The Lobster Man (Spencer Howard) was wonderfully intense and uncomfortable, staring me in the eyes often. I enjoyed his metamorphosis, which felt, as the girl Cavale (Claire Kaplan) had said earlier of a story, that this was a story which was a rhythm but not translated into words.
I also resonated with the theme, alongside the lovers’ relationship- they spoke of the Aquarian messiah, the one to succeed and improve upon Jesus Christ’s messianic mission- or perhaps he would be the Second Coming. He would indeed be a man for this age- a rock star. Cavale was a woman who had kidnapped Slim (Justin O’Neill) with her feminine wiles and was trying to inspire him with her stories to be this Rock and Roll Savior. Unlike the apocalyptic Galilean rabbi of old, who was appropriate two thousand years ago, the messiah of today would speak more intimately to the people of today. Again, not in words, but he would be able to reach inside people and to play back for them what they need to save their souls.
Ahh, a savior- I, too, have wanted to be saved, and have wanted to escape as Cavale wished to escape. But escape solves nothing and is fruitless. Even when a messiah is involved, one must be present and responsible for oneself. Would that this soter would save us all, but we must save ourselves regardless. I recommend seeing this play to view how these three characters work with this situation.