While undeniably good, silly fun, the content of the play felt very flimsy. At 45 minutes, this show is not long at all and it still felt like too much. There is no plot, story development or character whatsoever, just a selection of standard Western scenes enacted briefly with two actors and help from the audience. In fairness, the company present the show as a description of a genre in a non conventional way, but really I found it very difficult to engage – it was not insightful or original enough to justify the absolute absence of story. I feel like this would make either a stonking 15 minute slot in a cabaret night or a quite funny recurring joke in a sketch show, but there just wasn’t enough here to fill a stand alone performance.
There was an awful lot of time spent reading off page blankly with nothing really happening. I appreciate that the style of the narration was deadpan, but really, it was far too long for this to be engaging. Sometimes when the actors did a really long set up and then a tiny bit of action, the effect was hilarious. Most of the time it was just annoying.
I feel loath to be too mean about A Western because there were some glimmers of real interest. The audience were very engaged when directly involved, with some people in particular really getting into role. The traditional gunslinger stand off, played with an unwitting audience member, was really evocative and also exciting, because we genuinely didn’t know what was going to happen. Also thrilling were the times the actor left the pub and performed part of the action on the street. Seeing people walk past and wonder was unexpectedly fun – like being in on a practical joke before the punchline.
Overall an enjoyable bit of fluff, but not nearly enough substance to satisfy. The concept is good and the actors committed and likable, but for a piece so focused on audience participation to work, there has to be something for the audience to participate in.