Cowboys and Lesbians – Park Theatre, London

Reviewer: Monica Cox

Writer and Director: Billie Esplen

Cowboys and Lesbians offers a heartfelt exploration of teenage self-discovery through the lives of Noa and Nina, two 17-year-old girls navigating the complexities of their sexuality. They self-deprecatingly see themselves as ‘so sensible they can’t write stories about you’ and embark on imagining a dramatic Western story together. The play artfully weaves between their school-break conversations and the evolving novel they co-write, revealing intriguing parallels between the two plotlines.

Billie Esplen’s brilliant concept employs a pastiche of diverse perspectives to offer a fresh lens on modern-day society in a genuinely human way. Esplen finds humour in the ordinary lives of teenagers, showcasing their infatuation with teachers, complaints about school politics, and uniquely teenage conclusions about life. Her versatility shines through as she humorously parodies iconic symbols of masculinity and femininity in the Western world. The play’s rhythm and pace contribute to its great comedic timing and emphasise the awkwardness characteristic of teen experiences. The delicate cross-contamination of the two worlds leads to a compelling emotional climax in this dynamically structured story.

Georgia Vyvyan’s portrayal of the sensitive Noa beautifully complements Julia Pilkington’s depiction of the awkward Nina. The duo seamlessly transforms into various characters from their novel, using comedic melodrama to highlight the absurdity of patriarchal tendencies in films. As teenagers, they portray mature adults limited by their yet-to-be-discovered understanding of the world. Their natural and understated chemistry, accentuated by subtle glances, captures teenage bad timing and adds depth to the narrative.

Esplen’s fizzy writing, visionary direction and the magnetic chemistry between Vyvyan and Pilkington breathe life into this original and unique story. Cowboys and Lesbians evokes a warm and hopeful sense of reliving one’s teenage years, making it a delightful and quirky experience that tugs at the heartstrings.

Runs until 9 March 2024

The Reviews Hub Score

Warm and Hopeful

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The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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