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LETTERS TO EDITOR
|A CurtainUp Review
by Kathryn Osenlund
Cowboy Mouth is an artifact from Sam Shepard's playwriting infancy. Written by Shepard with Patti Smith during their love affair in 1971, it is a self-indulgent paen to themselves and their problems. That said, I've seen a whole lot worse plays in a whole lot bigger theaters. This one-act is presented at the Shubin, a tiny storefront theater on Bainbridge with a mission to make a theater space accessible to independent artists and small theater groups, either in collaboration or as a Shubin Theater production. For this show, the low budget, messy set called for in the script fits right in. The stage lights stay bright and steady throughout, although more creative and subtle use of lighting would be an asset.
Ray Germann, who plays Slim (Sam Shepard), also produced the show. Joy Orlemann plays Cavale (Patti Smith). The cast also includes Kenny Opdenaker as Lobster Man, and there's a stuffed crow named Raymond.
Slim is obsessively drawn to Cavale, but accuses her of kidnapping him away from his wife and baby son. Cavale taunts and tempts him with his dream of wanting to be a Rock n Roll Jesus. The stars of the show are very attractive and resemble the playwrights. Ray Germann even plays guitar and drums.
Germann and Orlemann are strong actors, capable of keeping it interesting while sustaining cycles of hostility and desire. There's crazy talk as they rage at each other, sometimes spinning ideas, sometimes meandering. Then the theme is hit so heavily in a couple of blockbuster speeches that it almost obviates the need for a play. Still, it's intriguing to watch developments, which include Slim and Cavale playing games with Lobster Man, who undergoes quite a transformation.
Cowboy Mouth may be old Shepard, but this production works even though the director, Tom Teti, says he never really "got" Sam Shepard. He must have good instincts.
At This Theater
Leonard Maltin's 2003 Movie and Video Guide
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam
Somewhere For Me, a Biography of Richard Rodgers
The New York Times Book of Broadway: On the Aisle for the Unforgettable Plays of the Last Century
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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