Review: Midlife Cowboy at The Pleasance
PUBLISHED: 12:21 25 September 2019 | UPDATED: 12:21 25 September 2019
In these crazy, hazy days of September 2019 when life in our reliable parliamentary democracy has degenerated into a scenario that even the most fanciful writer couldn't make up, then it's time for entertainment.
Head to N7 for the World Premiere of Midlife Cowboy, a new musical written by Tony Hawks. He is its producer-director and takes the lead role of Stuart, who gave up his safe job in a bank for the wilder shores of country music and is undergoing a severe midlife crisis.
It's a tale of heartache, love and friendship set in the midst of the Swindon Country & Western Club. Stuart is married to the vivacious Jane (Debra Stephenson) a puppet maker who is trying to save her failing marriage. Her husband is only able to show affection, and indeed make love to her, when wearing a stetson. It's a childless marriage and Jane is considering adoption... if only she and Stuart were able to to communicate about it.
At the same time she is desperate to revive their home-based Country & Western Club. Jane puts all her efforts into a seemingly hopeless bid to end many years of hurt and rejection by winning first prize in the local Railway Museum Gala Evening.
Enlisted in this endeavour are Graham, played by Duncan Wisbey, who gives a hugely convincing performance as a character with Asperger's and new member, hairdresser Penny (Georgina Field), an irrepressible local girl who plays the ukulele and whose stated aim is to "put the Wilch into Wiltshire"
The singing quintet is completed by the other new recruit, Dan (James Thackeray), who runs a carpet cleaning business and is so nervous at his audition that he enters the room literally backwards.
In the midst of rehearsals for the Gala Evening, marital life is very uneasy: Jane suspects infidelity and is unhappy about calls to her husband from a mystery woman called Karen.
Act II opens with a shell-shocked Stuart proclaiming "I have just seen my wife share a passionate kiss with another man" - namely Dan. Jane retorts "It's typical of you to take a kiss at face value." Clearly it's a cry for help and Stuart assures her "things will be different soon".
A delightful story line, excellent acting and enjoyable music made us actually care what happens to the SCWC. We were rooting for them and the audience, both young and old, left the Pleasance with a smile.
Continues until October 6. More details and tickets here.