Watching a one person show is a lot like having a first date. You know you’re going to spend some time with the person, so you hope with all your might that they’ll be interesting and worth the time you invest, but so many times they end up coming out a wash. Those few that do live up to your standards, however, can end up being some truly memorable experiences. With Bohemian Cowboy, Theater 4S presents us with Raymond King Shurtz, an earnest, southern man mourning for a father who vanished after a walk in the desert, and who goes through a series of mystical journeys to find some meaning. Along the way we're treated a bevvy of family stories, road stories, and some good ol' Southern music, all while going on an adventure of self-discovery.
Most of the play concerns Shurtz’s experience with his family, and in most cases this would grow tedious after the first thirty minutes, and in truth, the show does lag a few times, but Shurtz has a way of keeping things interesting. He’s a natural born storyteller, with plenty of charisma, two properties that any great actor in a one person show simply must possess. Shurtz also injects a bit of my magic and mysticism into the proceedings, reminiscing about his journeys across the rugged west, his adventures playing poker with Hamlet, drinking with Hank Williams, and even arm wrestling Jesus, and each of these helps to illuminate a part of Shurtz’s own emotional mindframe, and help to keep the audience engaged in the story. The play also features plenty of music, both original and traditional, mostly played by Shurtz himself, and in one of the most touching moments in the play, Shurtz sings a song mourning the loss of Hamlet’s Ophelia, showing himself a gifted songwriter as well as an actor.
One person shows are not for everyone. They all take a little patience and a little faith, but once you let Bohemian Cowboy permeate you with its old west charm and mystic flights of fancy, you’ll find yourself immersed in one of the most emotional journeys you can find on Austin stages. It may seem like just one man talking for an hour and a half, but the results are magical.
To purchase tickets, and to find out more about the cast, crew and company, just visit the Hyde Park Theatre site.
- ► 2010 (422)
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