A flawless one-cow show. Camela Cuison reviews Buttercup by Tom Wainwright

Fri 19 Oct 2012

Buttercup is a one man show . . . or would it be more accurate to say one cow?

I couldn’t fault Wainwright’s interpretation, for how would one tackle what a cow from Gloucestershire would look like as a human, if not in a flowery green apron and timberland boots? The stage is bare and the play is performed with minimal stage lighting. Yet this is not a play where one is drowned in the over indulgence of a single man. The incredible impersonations help the cause.

If you are not like me and have not often wondered what that everyday cow was thinking, then the question still remains: what would persuade an audience to watch such a show? More so, what is the function of such a play? My over active analytic brain immediately conjures up seductive statements such as: “The minimalist production uses a rural protagonist to revert the audience back into a simple rural atmosphere, an artistic form of revenge, whose hatred harks back all the way to the industrial revolution” or perhaps, “a cow is an everyman figure, and so through this often simply perceived creature, the audience can experience a topical play without the hindrances or political red tape that is unavoidable, if it were to be categorised as satirical”. Both statements (in their own hyperbolic pretentious way) may hold a degree of truth, however they miss the exuberance of the show, and miss how clever it really is.

Ironically the critique of reality TV held the greatest truth. The transition between the dullness of real life to the over scripted nature of reality TV all mesh together in the romance that manages to bloom in the antagonistic world of over paid egos and jail. (If that all sounds a bit like mumbo jumbo to you it is merely a failure of my ability to convey how clever it really was.) Buttercup’s opinion as to whether or not we should withdraw from the EU was enough to show up. There are moments of heartbreaking sincerity . . . which are then quickly dismissed by a rather keep calm and carry on attitude.

Wainwright flips from Buttercup to Archie (from TOWIE) to Gordon Ramsey to Greg Wallace. The sheer extent of his repertoire can exhaust you but you’re far too busy being swept up in the stories that you are more than willing to suspend your disbelief for a few minutes more.

Buttercup by Tom Wainwright was performed at Lakeside Theatre on Thursday 11 October 2012.

Camela Cuison is the Editor of the Book Section of The Rabbit. Visit the Rabbit Books blog.

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