3starWe’ve probably all felt a desire to reinvent ourselves at one time or another, Hugo Timbrell’s latest play My Life As A Cowboy has also had to find a new way of doing things, and following the cancellation of this year’s VAULT Festival, is now playing a short run at the Park Theatre as part of the Come What May Festival.
Directed by Nikhil Vyas, we meet best friends Conor (Tom Taplin) and Zainab (Sara Faraj). With that same urge to find change, Conor sets upon the idea of becoming a Country and Western Dancer, with the aim of finding fame (as a backing dancer) in America. Zainab may be reluctant at first, but is also driven by a need to shake things up and a sense of loyalty to her friend.
In Conor’s day job as a swimming pool lifeguard, we meet a third character, Michael, who it turns out also has a love of Country and Western music, it sounds like a match made in heaven, but things don’t go quite as smoothly as Conor might hope.
In fact My Life As A Cowboy takes a few unusual twists and turns, leaving the audience guessing where things might be heading next. In one moment, it’s trying to be a riotous comedy, and there are some genuinely funny one-liners, but in the next it’s trying to find deep and meaningful answers to a teenage existential crisis. It never quite manages to find the balance between the two, and that makes it all the harder for the audience to engage.
It’s equally as hard to connect with the characters. Conor and Zainab could be any two youngsters in Croydon and we never really get to understand their motivations. Michael, the character most critical to plot progression, goes through so many personality changes it’s nearly impossible to keep up.
What does keep us in engaged is David Angland’s performance as Michael, playing into these multiple personalities, Angland succeeds in creating a funny and likable character, providing the majority of the comic moments.
The final scene comes with a comfortable predictability, but because it’s played for laughs, leaves the audience feeling short changed. My Life As A Cowboy starts with a great concept, and one that could be hugely entertaining and endearing, but a series of nonsensical plot twists and strange character choices leaves this play begging for a reinvention of its own.
My Life As A Cowboy is at Park Theatre until 27th May