Theater Review: Cowboys and Indians

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This year, Bwog’s doing a better job of getting to every student production and telling you about it. First up this season is Cowboys and Indians, a new play by occasional B&W contributor Will Snider.

jjWe understand the underlying premise of Cowboys and Indians: a pill-popping yuppie kid (Brett Austin Robbins) falls in with a vulgar criminal (Thomas Anawalt) in a romantic effort to free himself from “all that shit.” The bank robbing life turns out not to be all it’s cracked up to be. Sort of like Cormac McCarthy meets The Perks of being a Wallflower, with a post-Iraq twist.

That’s where concept confronts the reality of crafting a play with no movement, no character development, and no overarching message (an absence that’s more hapless than nihilistic).

If writer/director Will Snider–coming off a well-recieved effort last weekend–was going for gut impact, he wins. This play is raw, visceral, and leaves you wanting to hide under the covers and think of a place where psychopaths are more laconic and women exist. Images like a pistol in someone’s mouth slap us in the face again and again; for a play that talks about dicks and firearms and masturbation as much as this one does, it’s hardly necessary for the characters to explain the phallic symbolism.

While the plot relies on deception and violence, the dialogue relies on a steady stream of profanity, so constant that it almost fades into the background–except when the repetition starts to feel like a crutch, gratuitously added for the sake of a tone. If the characters had a dime for every time they said “fuck that shit,” they wouldn’t have to rob the bank.

But the sexual braggadocio, senseless cruelty, and hamburger face-stuffing (accompanied by a good ten-minute bonding session over McDonalds) don’t support some statement about modern man–it’s all just sort of…there.

To be fair, the cast shines. Robbins pulls off a neurotic Holden Caulfield, and Anawalt makes for a truly revolting redneck. The best is arguably Sam Packard, whose entrance three-quarters in adds welcome dimension to a play that up till then had only two, if that. And Snider manages a few good lines: “Retarded or not, he still loves cash. This is America,” Anawalt declares. 

See Cowboys and Indians Friday and Saturday in the Lerner Black Box at 8:00 PM, admission free. 

– AMP and LBD



  1. FIRST!  

    why does robbins get a middle name? i hope this play aint as pointless as everything/different or whatever it was called.

  2. will snider

    is the fucking man

  3. will snider,

    chaz twalter, and sam "might've just shot lincoln" packard FTW.

  4. so that's why  

    sam packard has that moustache.

  5. sam  

    packard's moustache is truly remarkable.

  6. Will Snider

    I think Will is truly talented.


  7. please.  

    too harsh bwog. when was the last time you wrote a play and got it produced?

    • audience  

      Well, I was there last night...bwog is being pretty kind.

    • You please  

      Anyone can write and produce a shitty play. Most of us simply have the sense to not do it.

    • also  

      it's not very hard to get your play produced when you're friends with everyone on the production team.

      • whatever  

        I'd rather see someone who knows what they want and actively try to get it than some dumbass prick of a whiny CU brat who just whines endlessly about how everything isn't handed to them on a silver platter. The real theatre world is all about using your connections to get ahead, CU theatre is just good training.

        • yeah...  

          that's just a terrible argument.

        • Julie Arde  

          I'd like to see anybody in Columbia Theater who knows what "the real theater world" consists in. It seems to me, that most people talk a big game and don't know their head from their ass any more than the next guy. It has nothing to do with writing and putting up a play. It has to do with having something to say, which Mr. Snider most certainly does. If you don't like what he has to say, then that's another issue from taking cheap shots at someone who has a voice, simply because he's a threat. Make no mistake, He is a threat.

          And Packard's mustache kicks ass.

  8. sad truth  

    brett robbins is a pathetic actor. his vanity is only outmatched by his utter lack of talent.

  9. hello?  

    It is much easier to be (overly) critical of art, especially new art, than to find any good in it. I found a lot of good in this play (I saw it last night) and I think that is far more meaningful than this review.

    First of all, the reviewer appears to me to be quite ignorant of anything theatrical or even literary. This was NOT a concept play... quite the opposite. The play was entirely realist, yet still, through an intelligent twist in its composition, managed to discuss a lot of artistic/theatrical themes while avoiding the typical modes of discussing those issues (artist characters, formalistic gimmicks).

    Not only was the acting excellent (I thought Anawalt was particularly good), but the dialogue was very well done... realistic and dynamic (at worst a little repetitive at times.)

    It is typical of a bad reviewer to misunderstand the intelligent employment of cliche. The McDonald's scene was, in my opinion, brilliantly written, because it not only harped on social themes, theatrical themes, and cultural-historical themes (which were dealt with very cleverly throughout the play), but because it was damn funny.

    It is very easy (and cowardly) to view good art and feel good about oneself (superior to it) by criticizing it a lot... it takes much more courage to address the good, the positive, in a new piece of art... on this front the reviewer could only muster up a vague comment about the good acting and a good line. The "good line" cited was, in fact, one of the least subtle in the whole play... perhaps that reflect the literary mind of the reviewer.

    Also, why are these commenters so nasty and cowardly?

  10. The Real Review  

    was written by poster #14

  11. chill out guys  

    even Will doesn't really like this play. He's a great guy, and he's a solid writer, and you're not doing him a favor by positively re-reviewing the play.

  12. I repeat  


  13. re chill out guys  

    to "chill out guys:"

    not quite true. will knows it's not the best thing he's written but it seems he does like the play and that reviewing this show through the lens of character development and "life message" is kind of missing the point. and it's not hapless or nihilistic. it's good, not so clean fun for an hour. the play really moves and you'll enjoy the acting no doubt. it's worth an hour study break for all the Butler rats out there...

  14. favorite part.  

    Brett Robbins getting spit on. The joke after, sure, but mainly, the act.

  15. psh

    weak review. it's a good show, people.

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