Perfect Cowboys in Action: A Perfect Mermaid by David Mamet, Cowboys #2 and Action by Sam Shepard.† moonlight directed by Fiona Atkin at ANU Arts Centre Drama Lab, Thursday October 2† Saturday October 11, 2008.† Tickets $15 / $12 at the door.† Teatro Vivaldi dinner packages 6257 2718.
Absurdist comedy is the common feature of these three short plays.† In each case, characters talk essentially because we human beings are unable to not use our unique recursive brains to reflect on our experiences and try to place ourselves somewhere sensible in our infinite ultimately unknowable universe.
Is the mermaid, supposedly seen while walking on the beach, with or without a tail, or a fish head? †Does one suburban cowboy actually die from too much imagination, or perhaps from being hit by a truck?† Can action, even gutting a fish, save us from destructive rage or continuous internal dialogue which stultifies action?† Whatís really going on in the lives of ordinary people like ourselves who can never stop thinking?
Fiona Atkin, currently undertaking doctoral research on Sam Shepard, has shown how to put academic study into theatrical shape.† She, and her cast including Ben Williams, Duncan Ragg and Samantha Sangston, understand Mamet and Shepardís philosophical and psychological world very well, though their characters cannot understand themselves.† The effect is often very funny to watch, but less than comfortable to think about.
I came home to watch politicians and economic commentators trying to explain global financial volatility.† moonlightís Perfect Cowboys in Action was the perfect antidote for despair, helping to see the comedy in the absurdity.† But then again, itís hard not to lock on to the absurdity and wonder if thatís the only reality. This is not just an academic dilemma, but theatrically intriguing.† Try not to miss it.
†††††††††††© Frank McKone M.A., F.A.C.E.
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