BWW REVIEW: Purpose And Peer Pressure Play Out As One Man's Goals Are Stripped Bare In VIRGINS AND COWBOYS
Friday 1 December 2017, 7pm, SBW Stables Kings Cross
Morgan Rose's intriguing look at contemporary dating culture in an age of the internet and oversharing plays out in the humorous and perplexing VIRGINS AND COWBOYS. Following a successful Melbourne debut in 2015, this Australian work draws the audience in to the story in the intimate space of SBW Stables theatre.
The premise of the work, directed by Dave Sleswick, is that the 23-year-old Sam (Kieran Law) has made it his goal to deflower a virgin. In this case, he has actually found two prospective women via the internet. The 19-year-old student, Lane (Penny Harpham), and the 29 year old career woman with a penchant for fitness, Steph (Katrina Cornwall). When Sam gets advice from his best mates Dale (George Lingard) and Kieren (James Deeth), who work with him at Subway fast food 'restaurant', stereotypical opinions of the kind of women are still virgins at are revealed which eventually turn out to be self-fulfilling prophesies. Whilst the first half of the work is set in reality, the second half of the work enters a surreal space as Sam dwells on his quest whilst the people around him move on, asking the audience to contemplate the purpose of uninspired goals and limited ambition.
Yvette Turnbull has created a deliciously detailed set for the work to start out on. The small stage is segmented to represent Sam and his flat mates' dining room, a painted concrete porch with cheap sun lounge on which Sam romances his women, Lane's plush carpeted bedroom and a green running track where Steph exercises. The three men are kept in relatively casual attire indicating their youthful nature and low-level status as fast food employees. Lane is initially styled in a manner to capture the desire of the young to be sporting the latest fashion, this time in long pleat skirt, mid riff exposing top and metallic sneakers. Steph is first seen in her athletic attire before making way for a bodycon dress in the style of the older 20 something women who can afford a better wardrobe and chose to go with the sex appeal path over comfort.
Sleswick has ensured that the characters are all recognisable even if the ages portrayed aren't really represented on stage with the performers, particularly the women, appearing to be older than the stated 19 and 29. Harpham presents the 19 year old Lane with a vapidity and nerdiness akin to GLEE's Rachel Berry, particularly as she appears to create a audio diary and sing to herself in her bedroom. She captures the awkwardness of youth as the young girl wanting to entice the older Sam with moves and lines that appear to be lifted out of a teen magazine. As 29 year old Steph, Cornwall ensures that the audience sees a more confident woman that, whilst willing to hand in her V Card, is not going to give it away to any old idiot that spouts cheesy lines. She portrays Steph as ambitious and driven and no nonsense if also a bit abrupt and hard, inkeeping with the impression Sam and his mates had of older virgins.
The men of the story are each unique but also similar in their simple backgrounds and aimless lives but Dale and Kieren appear to find some form of direction whilst Sam remains focused on the past. Lingard presents a more ruthless friend in Dale, the one who swoops in on Sam's 'prize' and presenting a less sensitive assessment of Sam's prospects. His portrayal of a man willing to do whatever his girlfriend wants is amusing and his ultimate response to her push for plans is very recognisable. Deeth delivers a gentler, more 'spiritual' and sensitive friend in Kieren who sees beyond his small life to travel and presents a more sympathetic understanding of why a woman may have waited. As central character Sam, Law presents the dropout as unambitious and single minded, focused on sex rather than having any thoughts of his future. Again, this character is also easily recognisable, but it is the transition into Rose's surreal second act that really highlights his understanding of Sam's inability to progress.
An entertaining and thought provoking work that elicits roars of laughter and perplexed contemplation, VIRGINS AND COWBOYS is intriguing in its assessment of society with a touch of audience participation for the front row. Whilst set in the internet era, this story still resonates with anyone that has dated in the last 20 years and possibly earlier as it rests on human desire and behaviour that ultimately hasn't changed that much with the increase in technology, just that information is more accessible now and people possibly share more than they used to.
VIRGINS AND COWBOYS
30 November - 16 December 2017
Photos: Ashely De Prazer