Tag Archives: Flora Doble

COWBOYS AND LESBIANS

★★★★

Park Theatre

COWBOYS AND LESBIANS at the Park Theatre

★★★★

“Pilkington and Vyvyan have amazing chemistry – their friendship and shy flirting seems entirely natural”

Cowboys and Lesbians, written and directed by Billie Esplen, is a queer romantic comedy about 17-year-old best friends Nina (Julia Pilkington) and Noa (Georgia Vyvyan). In their last year at secondary school, they are ready for the adult world and all that their young minds perceive it to entail – the freedom, choosing washing machines, and, most importantly, sex. Outside of school responsibilities, the two fantasise about their futures and a satirical Hollywood romance set in the Old West. Full of cliches, the teenage duo uses this story to explore their feelings for each other and their budding queerness.

The play fluctuates between scenes of Nina and Noa sitting on a bench discussing their hopes and dreams and scenes from their fantasy romance. In the latter, we meet the histrionic small-town girl Abigail – played by Vyvyan – who has dreams of making it to the unspecified Big City. One day, the charming Carter – played by Pilkington – joins her ranch as a farmhand and plays out every stereotype of a tough but sweet cowboy that you can imagine. The two, as expected, fall in love despite violent objections from Abigail’s older brother Jebediah and the intellectual interference of Abigail’s mentor Finneas. It must be commended how easily the pair move between the numerous roles – quick costume changes, exaggerated accents and great physicality do wonders here to help the audience along.

In both plotlines, the theme of stuckness is key – we see the lives of characters who feel that they have nowhere to go and must conform to what is expected of them whether that to learn to be a traditional housewife for the farm or go out to late night gigs in Bethnal Green. The most touching scenes are when Nina and Noa talk to Abigail and Carter respectively about their secret love and are encouraged to take the chance and be together when their created characters could not.

 

 

Pilkington and Vyvyan have amazing chemistry – their friendship and shy flirting seems entirely natural. The former is particularly strong as Carter who swaggers around and poses melodramatically whenever possible. The duo is also very funny – they have a great grasp of comedic timing, and their delivery is always strong and purposeful.

The set (Esme Solomon) is elementary but effective – the façade of a barn with wood-panelling and saloon doors to enter and leave the stage. A simple block sits in the middle of the stage on which the two friends sit as they compose their imaginary world. Pilkington and Vyvyan occupy the space well – making use of all the various props – such as the ladder and washing line – to add movement and intrigue to their dialogue. The lighting (Jamie Platt) works well with the set – a range of colours implemented depending on the time of day and the mood on stage.

There is an undeniable predictability in Cowboys and Lesbians, and it is full of well-worn cliches. Nevertheless, the play seems relatively self-aware, at times mocking its own reliance on the classic romantic structure of cinema and TV. Occasionally, the script shifts into the twee rather than the satirical which can make some moments of awkward teenage fumbling thoroughly cringey to watch. Overall, however, the play hits the right tone, and you can’t help but ‘awww’ when our protagonists finally have their first kiss.

It is a joy to see a queer coming of age story played out on stage. You will certainly laugh but you will also be touched by the naïve sweetness of it all. A well-executed and thought-out play.


COWBOYS AND LESBIANS at the Park Theatre

Reviewed on 23rd February 2024

by Flora Doble

Photography by Ella Pavlides

Previously reviewed at this venue:

LEAVES OF GLASS | ★★★★ | January 2024
KIM’S CONVENIENCE | ★★★★ | January 2024
21 ROUND FOR CHRISTMAS | ★★★★ | December 2023
THE TIME MACHINE – A COMEDY | ★★★★ | December 2023
IKARIA | ★★★★ | November 2023
PASSING | ★★★½ | November 2023
THE INTERVIEW | ★★★ | November 2023
IT’S HEADED STRAIGHT TOWARDS US | ★★★★★ | September 2023
SORRY WE DIDN’T DIE AT SEA | ★★½ | September 2023
THE GARDEN OF WORDS | ★★★ | August 2023
BONES | ★★★★ | July 2023
PAPER CUT | ★★½ | June 2023

COWBOYS AND LESBIANS

COWBOYS AND LESBIANS

Click here to see our Recommended Shows page

 

THE ADDAMS FAMILY A MUSICAL COMEDY – LIVE IN CONCERT

★½

London Palladium

THE ADDAMS FAMILY – THE MUSICAL COMEDY – LIVE IN CONCERT at the London Palladium

★½

“pretty feeble stuff and – despite the talent of the cast”

The Addams Family – originally a single-panel comic before being reimagined in a whole host of television and film adaptions – has become a cult phenomenon. Thus, it was only a matter of time that the famous family would get the musical treatment, first performed on Broadway in 2010. Now, after a successful UK tour, The Addams Family: The Musical Comedy (directed by Matthew White with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa) premieres on the West End with two nights at the London Palladium as an ‘in concert’ show.

Patriarch Gomez Addams (Ramin Karimloo) faces a conflict with his wife Morticia (Michelle Visage, of RuPaul’s Drag Race fame) when their typically morose daughter Wednesday (Chumisa Dornford-May) asks him to keep her shotgun engagement to all-American boy Lucas (Ryan Kopel) a secret. When Lucas and his parents Mal and Alice (Sean Kingsley and Kara Lane respectively) come to dinner to get to know their soon-to-be in-laws, Wednesday’s younger brother Pugsley (Nicholas McLean) causes mischief in an effort to turn his sister’s attention back to him.

The plot is weak and highly cliched. Our three couples – Morticia and Gomez, Wednesday and Lucas, and Alice and Mal – all go through some (very) minor strife before expectedly making up. They all learn some generic advice from one another – how to be honest, how to let loose, and so forth. The audience’s investment can only be minimal when the stakes are so low.

The strongest of the cast are Sam Buttery as Uncle Fester and Dickon Gough as Lurch despite the latter having minimal lines. Dornford-May performs well as Wednesday – she has a great voice. Her interest in Lucas however is baffling – she even calls him the wrong name (Lewis) at one point though its unclear whether this was scripted.

“despite the talent of the cast – not much can be done to enliven such a boring storyline”

The chemistry between Visage and Karimloo is a little lacking. They play their own roles well but one is strained to believe in their relationship, especially given Gomez’s characterisation as the doting husband.

The songs are nearly entirely forgettable. There are some amusing lyrics – most notably in the song Trapped sung by Gomez – but overall, they are uninspired and often come out of nowhere Karimloo delivers strongly in his solos but any group singing fails to pack a punch. Whether this is due to weak microphones, shoddy sound design or lack of enthusiasm from the cast is unclear.

The set (designed by Diego Pitarch) is disappointing even for an in concert performance. A cardboard façade of the skyscraper-clad New York City skyline sits at the back of the stage and a static tarp with stars and a moon shrouds the back wall. And, well, that’s it. Chairs, tables and the odd torture device are wheeled on in a vague suggestion of different rooms in the Addams’ family mansion. Granted, the musical is only scheduled for two nights but anything to suggest the set was anymore than a cheap afterthought would have been appreciated.

The props similarly fail to pack a punch. They are clearly cheap – Visage fails to make a clearly cardboard coffin look heavy at one point – and frankly no fun. There are no surprise hands or creatures jumping out of boxes. No appearance of the family pet Socrates the Octopus – not even a tentacle! Poorly rendered birds on sticks are flown around the stage at one point – I thought they were meant to be some make-belief fluff monster.

The Addams Family: The Musical Comedy – Live in Concert is pretty feeble stuff and – despite the talent of the cast – not much can be done to enliven such a boring storyline.

 

THE ADDAMS FAMILY – THE MUSICAL COMEDY – LIVE IN CONCERT at the London Palladium

Reviewed on 12th February 2024

by Flora Doble

Photography by Pamela Raith

 

 

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:

DEATH NOTE – THE MUSICAL IN CONCERT | ★★★★ | August 2023

THE ADDAMS FAMILY

THE ADDAMS FAMILY

Click here to see our Recommended Shows page