I began my 2023 Edinburgh Fringe with a front-row seat to Cowboys and Lesbians, an hour-long comedy held at Dome 10 in Bristo Square, which had me smiling the whole way through.
Produced by Eleanor Birdsall, Billie Esplen’s play stars Julia Pilkington and Georgia Vyvyan, a pair of friends still in school (Nina and Noa), worrying that they have wasted their youth now that they’re “already 17”, and have yet to do what Hollywood films suggest are important milestones for them to reach before graduating.
These worries are interwoven with a story of their own creation set “somewhere in America”, following a tale of a mysterious cowboy (Carter) falling in love with the younger sister of his boss (Esmerelda).
Pilkington and Vyvyan both give hilarious performances in Cowboys and Lesbians – being a two-person play meant that they both had to take on several different characters, which these performers pull off wonderfully, easily slipping between their roles. Where Nina and Noa are sweet and somewhat awkward – sure to remind anyone of their own unsureness of being 17 – Carter and Esmerelda are almost aggressively melodramatic in their satire of classic Westerns in a way that had the audience in stiches.
The set is rather simple – the background consisting of four hand-painted scenes of cloudy pastures, a wooden stepladder, a washing line spanning across the stage and a metal bench front and centre. This paired with the gentle country music that plays in the background of the theatre creates a calming atmosphere. An atmosphere that is shattered mere moments into the play’s beginning as the audience is swiftly reminded that it’s a comedy, as herbal tea is likened to lawnmower clippings.
Overall, there are few other shows that I can imagine being a better introduction into this year’s fringe and is one that I would not hesitate before watching again in the company of friends. Birdsall’s production of Cowboys and Lesbians was as heart-warming and sweet as it was funny, and I urge anyone with a spare hour in their schedule to catch one of the performances.
I’m Freddie (she/her), 21 years old living in Edinburgh. I am university student studying Psychology and Linguistics, just finishing my second year. I have an appreciation for any and all theatre mediums and love to talk about the little details of the productions that I am able to pick up on
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