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Review: Midlife Cowboy, at Pleasance Theatre

26 September, 2019 — By John Courtney O’Connor

James Thackeray, Tony Hawks, Duncan Wisbey, Georgina Field and Debra Stephenson in Midlife Cowbow. Photo: Adam Trigg Photography

“LIKE Native Americans, I have a reservations,” exclaims the lead character Stuart (Tony Hawks) when being introduced to line-dancing.
Hawks plays Stuart, a midlife suffering husband who runs the Swindon Country and Western Club with his wife Jane (Debra Stephenson).

She is trying to save not only the club but also her failing marriage: the couple barely communicate.

Unable to start a family, she takes refuge in the survival of the club, and the approaching annual gala competition.

The couple have an open audition for the completion and engage Penny (Georgina Field), a wacky hairdresser, and Dan, a Carpet cleaner (James Thackeray), along with Graham (Duncan Wisbey), a long-standing colleague.

Tony Hawks, known for Radio 4’s Just a minute and I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, has written the best seller Round Ireland with a Fridge and has written, directed and produced this piece.

Sometimes one can take on too much…the storyline is rather thin: midlife crisis, middle-class angst and a closet gay, and at one time I wondered what decade it was set, as at times it came across as a 70s TV sit-com.

The stand-out performers are Georgina Field and James Thackeray who have excellent solos and Thackeray has a good baritone voice – unfortunately his part has little character development. The love sub-plot between Penny and Graham is not at all convincing and leaves you crying out for more meat on the bone!

The Country and Western songs are very good, although the production doesn’t appear to use microphones which means the musical back-up at times drowns out the singer. Debra Stephenson sang some fine solos but there is a lack of projection.

Country and Western fans will love the show which is also feel-good family entertainment.

Until October 6
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