Sad About the Cows
Tristan Bates Theatre
Reviewed – 21st May 2019
“feels in a very early stage of its development and needs a lot more work”
We entered the performance space to see what seemed like bedroom furniture littered with clothes and pictures covering parts of the walls. The play then begins, and we are told by Rachel (Michelle Payne) about what feels like a stereotypical teenage view of the world, talking about local clubs, music she likes and famous people she fancied. We sit and listen to this and the show progresses, taking us deeper into her head and how she feels about the unrealistic expectations that are made of young women.
The biggest issue with Sad About the Cows was the writing (Michelle Payne), it felt stale and predictable but not relatable. Everything she said could’ve sat comfortably in any 90’s film about growing up and unfortunately a lot of the jokes simply fell flat; there really was an issue with the almost robotic nature to the script. The social agenda the performance was concerning itself with does really need to be spoken about, but in this case all it seemed to do was tell us on a very basic level about the issues of eating disorders without ever delving below the surface. When tackling such an inflammatory subject matter it is the creatives’ duty to explore the topic and help us through these issues with interesting and/or realistic content.
For one section the script moved abruptly into spoken word, giving us a different way to listen, I hoped for a second that this would be my relief and that I would find this more impactful, but I did not. The spoken word was delivered in a very similar way to the regular speech, a mistake that many fall into, spoken word can be beautiful but very hard to get right and on this occasion it did not pay off.
The set was also a large issue as it didn’t add anything to the show, it only worked against it. The sofa and the bed and the table all cluttered the space up and made it feel unrealistic, we know we are not in a bedroom, so I don’t see why you need all of those props; since many of them were never touched or referenced. For this production less really would have been more.
Overall, Sad About the Cows feels in a very early stage of its development and needs a lot more work. The subject matter has potential and I truly believe it’s about looking back over all the show’s elements and thinking what can be lost, so they can focus on less things and make them better, remembering quality not quantity.
Reviewed by Laurie Wilson
Photography by Stephanie Claire Photography
Sad About the Cows
Tristan Bates Theatre until 25th May
Previously reviewed at this venue: