C.O.W.S. IN FLIGHT
nytheatre.com review by Kevin Connell
What’s the point? – is a question that sadly went unanswered last
evening when I attended a performance of C.O.W.S. in Flight
at The Greenwich Street Theatre as part of the 2003 New York
International Fringe Festival.
August 15, 2003
Basically, this production is a collection of (not so) original works by six students from the Summer Directing Lab at the Playwrights Horizons Theatre School. According to the program notes, this production began as an elective class, under the tutelage of Marleen Pennison. Apparently one of the main goals of the class is to create a 10-minute solo piece that involves any medium or combination of media appropriate to the idea, which could include text, movement, sound, or photography. Pennison makes a point to stress that "process" is primary to "product," which is commendable if the process truly unveiled any sense of purpose. Unfortunately, what was revealed last evening was nothing more than a procession of banal characters in predictable situations, words lacking dramatic context, and a production mostly shaped and underscored by a cacophony of music, slides and props that only made this process feel unduly produced, leaving me to ponder C.O.W.S.’ point.
The only two cows worth milking in this production are Becca Johnson and Ben Knight. Johnson’s piece All I’m Losing is Me, finds success in its autobiographical nature. She takes command of the stage and trusts the simple honesty of her expressions. She utilizes music throughout the piece to give voice to that which she seems incapable of expressing, helping to greater illuminate the unspoken depths of her love for a boy named David.
Ben Knight finds his dimension wrapped in the package of a lonely yet ever-smiling man in his piece Stuart Dee. The strange machinations of his Stuart intertwines incomplete sentences, random thoughts, and highly poetic analogies, as he discusses sandwiches, his cat Walter, and the escapades of his brother Mark. His character seems never to have grown up, to be eternally a child, secluded in the safety of his room where the beauty of imagination is primary—sad, yes, but compelling. This is a piece worthy of further development. I found Knight’s quirky and seemingly psychologically bent Stuart to be a welcome conclusion to this evening of mostly uninteresting works.