ESSENCE OF COWBOY MYTH
by Harvey Perr
published November 8, 2007
Ode to the Man Who Kneels
now playing Off Off Broadway at the Performing Garage
through November 18
Richard Maxwell returns to form and, at the same time, takes a leap forward in his new musical/play/theater piece “Ode to the Man Who Kneels.” It isn’t easy to describe because one leaves the theater moved but uncertain as to what it was exactly that proved so moving. As if in a dream, what one remembers is somewhat illusory, a fragment here, an impression there, an image that passed quickly but now lingers in the consciousness as if what was a snapshot on the stage has become a photograph in the mind. What Maxwell has created could be called Essence of Cowboy Myth, a work that finds its own identity through images we already have implanted in our consciousness through all the legends of the American West we have allowed into our heads. Since each of us has his/her own set of images from his/her own experience, what one sees and hears at Maxwell’s piece is a synthesis of private sensations wedded with the work that Maxwell, in collaboration with his actors and his designers, has so poetically rendered. So, for me, the music is the songs that Maxwell has composed mingled with every cowboy ballad in my memory, it is Lotte Reiniger’s silhouettes being projected in a prairie saloon, and it is John Ford’s “My Darling Clementine” filtered through Richard Maxwell’s sensibility. It continues to haunt me. It takes its place in some sort of collective nostalgia that is stored deep within me. It may be something completely different to you. Those of you adventurous enough to find for yourselves are encouraged to do so.
harveyperr @ stageandcinema.com