“a brilliant Fringe comedy”
raves Mike Ross of the Edmonton Sun in his 5/5 review of Cowboy: A Cowboy Story, playing now at the 2011 Edmonton Fringe Festival.
We’ve sold out 3 out of our 6 shows already! You better move!
“In this Western spoof that owes a debt to Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles, as all Western spoofs do, the characters on the silver screen literally come alive on stage.
See, it’s a multi-media Western spoof, and rarely have the film and live action elements been combined so artfully at the Fringe. Characters run off the stage to immediately appear on screen in scenes shot in a suitably Western location weeks, perhaps months ago. Brent Felzien both writ the tale and made the movin’ pictures – and about a minute into this knee-slappin’ oater you’ll be flappin’ yer gums like a grizzled prospector, too.
Your narrator and designated grizzled prospector (every good Western must have one) is Old Willie (William Banfield), who, between eating beans and farting, sets the usual scene – lawless Old West town ruled by a gang of no-good varmints led by a crooked sheriff – and introduces the usual protagonist: A shadowy stranger known only as the “Cowboy.” A vibraslap goes off every time the word “Cowboy” is uttered – much in the same way that a horse whinnies in fright every time “Frau Blucher” is mentioned in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein.
Needless to say, the Cowboy is a fast draw, a crack shot, a catch for the local womenfolk – all one of “her” – and a mysterious man of few words. He has gun and will travel. He has a mysterious backstory, too: A murder committed by the same set of afoermentioned no-good varmints in the very same lawless town he just happened to ride into. What a coincidence!
Felzien and his fun-loving posse have taken care not to leave out any Western movie cliches, and then turn them upside down. The gunfights are a scream, the love scenes a hoot, the horseback riding both a scream and a hoot. Within the usual Western plotline – from saloon poker game to thwarted romance to final showdown – here’s even a train robbery that goes off the rails into complete absurdity. The film elements mesh beautifully with the low-tech stage props, for full comic effect. That the bad guys all are all armed with toy guns is a nice touch. There are many more, the sort of one-second sight gags and quick groaners that Mel Brooks specialized in.
It’s frankly amazing that any of the actors can keep a straight face doing this material, but the Cliff Kelly as the Cowboy keeps his steely Clint Eastwood stare painted on the entire time – even as a burly, bearded man on screen is lip-syncing to Paula Cole’s Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?
This is a brilliant Fringe comedy – all that’s missing is a candygram for Mongo.”