Friday, August 27, 2010

'Opening Night on a Magical Ledge'

I wonder what my ancestors would think of me putting on plays on the same mesas they used to run cattle on? I think they might approve. Yes, 'Under the Desert' opened last night on The Thompson Ledge to an enthusiastic audience of about twenty-seven people, (quite a feat when you consider where they have to go to see the play!) The actors where exhausted, as was the playwright/director, but the play went off very well, the evening was beautiful, and it was a great experience. Every inch of my body hurts from all the last minute preparations. This morning, I am tired but very happy with everyone's effort. Let the theatre Gods dance! I need to keep moving today, but just wanted to let everyone know that we survived opening night on the ledge!

This is a review written by some patrons and fellow artists from Paris on the 'Bohemian Cowboy' show I did in Torrey.

Review :

Why did I like Raymond King Shurtz’s play : Bohemian Cowboy.

Bohemian Cowboy contains all the ingredients of an American family story plus much more. The play is about the moving quest of a son trying to understand the ultimate disappearance of his failing father who was never there for him. The setting is the heart of the American west. The language, the feelings, the anecdotes are those which filled numerous major American novels, plays and movies: Jim Harrison’s family sagas (Dalva and The Road Home), Paul Auster’s searches for an unknown father (Moon Palace), Tennessee William’s depressed and abused sons (The Glass Menagerie), Chris Eyre’s and Sherman Alexie’s search for a dead father who fled from his disastrous past (Smoke Signals). Stories of drunkenness, punches in the nose, parted couples, country music, casinos, horses, pick-up trucks, magnificent country roads and ultimately the fascination for the desert, its solitude and awe. In short, the play comes into a rejoicing resonance with many great American and western references we love because we were nurtured by those.
However, beyond this, the play is deeply moving because it renders with subtlety and truth (probably due to its autobiographical nature, but certainly also to the talent of the story teller) the deep suffering and distress a son has for its neglecting father.
But all this is only the bottom layer of a delicious cake. Two spectacular toppings transform the play into a wonderful, although heartbreaking, treat. Firstly, the powerful encounter of two essential spiritual and cultural figures that I shall not further unveil to keep the surprise: Jesus and Hamlet. Secondly, a dreamlike dimension such as that found in the Tales of ETA Hoffman, which gives to the play what Sigmund Freud called the strangeness and obscurity (or the worrying strangeness) of dreams. These two features are carefully entwined into a series of fantastic and improbable events that bring the spectator into a weird but stunning narration. Dreams as myths are not easily intelligible but leave in our mind a profound impression because they address meaningful and essential questions and lead us to reach at least partial answers. The adventures of our Bohemian Cowboy with Jesus and Hamlet punctuated with memories of his family history take the form of a clever psychoanalytical introspection. Clues are unraveled, eventually leading to at least parts of the answers of this personal quest.

Daniel Gillet, Paris, France


Chuckh said...

Awesome review. Congratulations on getting your play up and running. You should try and video tape it. Break a leg!

Chuck said...

Great review!
I just wanted to tell you that no self-respecting cow would climb
Thompson's Ledge to the top! Never happen...maybe on the road, but not through the rock. Coyotes did. Kids did. Not cows. said...

No cowboy would push a cow to the top...waaaaay too much work!

Gerry said...

Ann, are you kidding, you should have been with me and our cowboy father pushing a bunch of cows up a little used practically non existent trail to the top of Stinking Water or maybe it was Sinking Water Bench, a very obscure bench on which no cows have probably been since. If the feed had been better on the Thompson they would have found a way, if they had to lift the cows up over the worst parts! Remember they had to jump them across the Hells Back bone before the bridge was built to get to that great feed on the other side. Never underestimate a determined cowman looking for good feed.
Oh, by the way, stunning review all the way from Paris. I see you did impress those wordly Parisians!

Gerry said...

I meant worldly Parisians. I hope someone will write a review of "Under the Desert!" Don't forget to take photos and videos! Good look with the rain Gods. said...

Yes Gerry, but only if necessary for water and food in some remote spot. I am positive Clyde would not push a cow up Thompson's Ledge...unless it did put on more weight than take it off in the long run! Clyde was a canny cowboy.

LaRena said...

Great review! i was happy you did your play in my home country, but didn't expect reviewers from Paris to be in attendance. Torrey is getting more sophisticated all the time. I think the theater that was open for years in Grover , with great plays brought from out of Salt Lake City made the locals have more appreciation for theatr.

And then there is "The Thompson Ledge.: You're a brave young artist.

vooman's voice said...

Great Review. I didn't know Paris was looking over the west.- Linda