The Fringe Festival is over, but that doesn’t mean we can’t recount some of the great shows we caught on its final weekend!
Cowboys Don’t Sing, presented by Figure It Our Later Productions, was a big crowd pleaser- so much so that I was starting to feel like I was missing out on some kind of inside joke. In a way, watching Cowboys felt a bit like being a fly-on-the-wall at a hasty and playful collaboration by somewhat-talented, uncannily witty, and culturally savvy college friends who have an irreverent love for Westerns. There’s a ton of whimsical humor and everyone definitely seems to be enjoying themselves, but you never quite connect to the play in a meaningful way.
Cowboys takes off on a shaky start. Neither the plot nor the songs nor the acting are remarkable in themselves. The true center of the show is its self-referential, self-deprecating treatment. There’s a storyline and characters, but they’re mostly props for a satirical poke at Westerns, and theatrics in general. There’s the character who always dies, the girl who has no real function in the plot, the obligatory love duet, the sassy Hispanic saloon mistress, the tongue-in-cheek racist targeting of Native Americans. All of it is fun. Most of it is funny. And some of makes for some good old self-aware theatrics. For example, instead of a traditional intermission, we are given a short “Intermission: The Musical,” in which we watch faux-audience members share the thoughts on the show and wander into the actors’ dressing room in search of some peanut M&Ms. The best highlight of the show is most likely “One Horse Town,” the song given to the otherwise-silent horse (played by Tim Rozmus) in which all the horse puns in the world are unleashed in three minutes.
Once Cowboys gains momentum, it finds its unique voice and has laugh-a-minute humor. I’d recommend keeping an eye out for future incarnations of Cowboys and seeing it for its uniquely funny, self-referential love/hate for the West.