Our January Cog Night was the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Charlie Josephine’s Cowbois at the Royal Court.
Nazma suggested this show as a Cog Night back in November ’23, and the wait certainly built up the excitement.
As a team based in South East London, we rarely venture across to West London. We therefore decided to make the most of it, enjoying a pint in a local pub before the performance.
This was my first visit to the Royal Court. In 1996 it was closed for restoration by HaworthTompkins, reopening in 2000. I was impressed with the space, notably a generous-sized bar for an intimate venue.
A less traditional start to the performance, a group of women gathered on stage and began singing whilst the audience were still settling.
Lily and I were struck by the gorgeous period costumes. The production has already been nominated for the Best Costume WhatsOnStage Award.
The show is set in the Wild West, in a subdued saloon. A group of women appear to be yearning for their men, that have been away in the gold rush for almost a year.
Until cowboy Jack Cannon shows up seeking refuge and throws their lives upside down …or perhaps awakens them.
The show’s first half was heart-warming, filled with acceptance towards queerness, gender and identity.
A poignant moment was the young character Kid’s acknowledgement of one of the characters change of identity. They were re-introduced, Kid responded with a shrug. The lack of response communicated so much, without the need of any words.
We were left on a cliffhanger entering the interval, as the men returned to the saloon. We all knew they’d spoil the fun.
As we expected in the second half, the men struggled to understand and accept what had changed in their absence.
However, when Jack’s arch rival and bounty hunter Charley Parkhurst, played by LJ Parkinson, turned up the show descended into camp chaos.
We were led to an elaborate, full cast shooting scene. I was utterly absorbed in the silliness.
LJ Parkinson stole the show with their drag king performance in the short time they were on stage.
Other performances that stood out were Lucy McCormick with her incredible humour. A few of us have already booked to see her show from Edinburgh Fringe in Soho Theatre next month.
In conclusion, the show was a blissful combination of tenderness and glee, tackling important topics whilst filled with cheers and joy.
Gathered at the pub later on in the week, a few of us were still discussing Cowbois and reeling from the excitement of it all.