I've never seen a play at The Cameron House. I also couldn't picture how Heart in Hand Theatre could transform the small backspace into the set of Cowboy Mouth. When I walked in last night, however, I was instantly excited and intrigued.
For those of you who don't know the show, Cowboy Mouth was written and performed by Sam Shepard and Patti Smith in 1971. The script centers around Cavale, a crow-like rock and roll groupie and Slim, her coyote-like rock and role hero. Cavale has captured Slim, taken him away from his family and has declared him the next god of rock and roll. Situated in her apartment, she attempts to build him into her dream rock star.
The script is terrifying in that the language is very specific. Smith and Shepard wrote the script for the purposes of their own performance. Therefore, a 2013 rendition of the show is a considerably difficult ambition.
Heart in Hand Theatre has done an excellent job. Cavale is my favourite female Sam Shepard character and I've also pictured her in a particularly edgy, cool light. I didn't expect the performance I saw onstage by Jessica Huras but her version of the character is endearing, likeable and a lot prettier than I anticipated. Jason Collett makes a very believable Slim. His musical contribution to the show would please Sam Shepard who is also a musician and has declared music to be a very important element to a number of his works. Collett has successfully found Slim's ease and he also contrasts that ease well with the heights of Slim's desperation. Both performances are colourful and admirable.
The set and costumes were phenomenal. It was a brilliant idea to make use of the Cameron House because the set really did end up looking like the lived-in room of a music junkie. In all its messiness, it was still endearing. I somehow, wanted to live there. Just as the script calls for, an unexplainable aura of "cool" existed on stage. Akiva Romer-Segal, set and costume designer, also did an unforgettable job on the costumes. I would explain further but I wouldn't want to give away the show's most interesting design asset.
As a company, Heart in Hand Theatre has done a fabulous job with a very challenging script. Don't miss it, onstage at The Cameron House until February 14: http://www.heartinhandtheatre.com/