Theater Review: Cowboys and Indians
Written by Bwog Staff
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.
We 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