Horse Country

C J Hopkins
Flying Bridge Theatre Company and Rive Productions
Wilton’s Music Hall

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Sam (Michael Williams) and Bob (Daniel Llewelyn-Williams) Credit: Cam Harle
Sam (Michael Williams) and Bob (Daniel Llewelyn-Williams) Credit: Cam Harle
Sam (Michael Williams) and Bob (Daniel Llewelyn-Williams) Credit: Cam Harle

Horse Country by C J Hopkins might remind you of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot as its two characters chat seemingly without purpose for over ninety minutes. But that superficial similarity is about as far as the comparison goes.

These two characters sit drinking alcohol as they talk in the rhythms of modern America. And though the play was written in the 1990s, their allusions could easily be referencing Trump’s America.

“Isn't this a great country or what?” Sam (Michael Williams) asks Bob (Daniel Llewelyn-Williams) who responds with, “what we need is more guys with guns and women without clothes.”

We never get a clear idea of how they spend their time, though they talk about card games, fishing and films such as Midnight Cowboy, along with the mysterious suggestion that they may have killed someone.

Even as we take our seats, the actors are visually illustrating something about our characters. Sam is restless with a wild, slightly childlike expression. Bob sits fixed in his seat looking bored and disengaged.

The actors give a stunning performance that occasionally shifts from their apparently aimless conversation to brief comic routines reminiscent of the old music hall or the burlesque of early 20th century American vaudeville. Jokes in these routines echo their more serious conversational comments. When they say “the one thing wrong with this country” is that there's too much thinking, they follow up by asking, "how many surrealists does it take to shoe a horse” and “how many surrealists does it take to change a lightbulb?”

There is a satiric edge to the play and the audience generally laughed, though its lack of obvious purpose or direction could be wearing. As I left the theatre, someone connected with Wilton's asked me what I thought. I said, “I’m still mulling it over,” to which he advised, “it's better not to mull it over."

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna