Jaston . . . OUT (and) LOUD:
I guess I’m the last person to know that this superb actor-playwright is gay, as if that matters. But it definitely does to Jaston’s hilarious, emotional and sometimes painful recollections of a West Texas upbringing and ultimately (2nd Act) to recounting his adoption of a seven-year-old Chinese boy. His retrospective of his harmful one-upping an Asian classmate by calling her a “Jap” clearly demonstrates the hurtfulness of labeling a homosexual a “fag.” Point made, Jaston.
Williams’ onstage confirmation is humorously punctuated with a wink and the line, “Some of us are meant to be cowboys and some of us are meant to be tied up and rescued.” But this show eloquently speaks to “the inner cowboy” in all of us – wanting to prove ourselves, unleash our independent spirit and to connect with and understand family and ourselves. Yee-hah!
Williams is a powerful stage presence, a theatrical treasure. He could enthrall an audience by just reading the Austin phone book. But his personal tales of townies, land barges, goat ropers, baton twirlers, pious preachers, “prairie apes,” and pudgettes are engaging, enjoyful and historically punctuated. (The Beatles on the “Ed Sullivan Show.”) And line after line is priceless:
— The fill-in-the-blanks preacher “wouldn’t know the deceased from a loaf of bread.”
— “The casserole patrol” referring to covered dishes when someone passes.
— In the family “land barge,” a “drive to the Dairy Queen could be a little private seduction.”
— “…undefended minds that the English teacher had written off as impregnable.”
— “I was in stir-fried hell!”
Although it may seem a reach to connect his Argentine travels and the former foul deeds of its government to the favored Ford Falcon of his youth, he does so with chilling aplomb and the canvas painting of pained faces. In fact, the set pieces are entirely modest – an old Mobilgas pump, a paint-flaking metal lawn chair, a church pew, a backlit sculpture, a tan leather recliner, a couple of cowboy hats and a barn wood table his Dad made. Yet all evoke stories – and noises – to link us all to our pasts and to who we are.
“Cowboy Noises” has a seemingly short run with ACL Music Festival competing for attention. Don’t be deterred. It may be a one-man show, but in your mind it is a full-on conversation.