Co-directed by Charlie Josephine and Sean Holmes, the play explores queer stories like you’ve never seen before
BY ELLA GAUCI, IMAGES BY HENRI T RSC
As the cast of Charlie Josephine’s new play Cowbois take their final bow, the Swan Theatre erupts into a standing ovation. From the rafters to the floor, people from every walk of life cheer and clap after two hours and forty minutes of laughing, crying, and cry-laughing.
In a sleepy town in the Wild West, almost all the men have vanished, swept up in the Gold Rush. The women hold down the fort, isolated from the outside world and left to fend for themselves. The only man in town is the drunkard sheriff who spends more time sleeping in his own cells than helping the women. But this tumbleweed town suddenly becomes a lot more exciting when a handsome bandit Jack Cannon, a trans masc cowboy, strolls into town…
This hilarious all-singing, all-dancing, all-fabulous Western is like nothing you will have seen before. Co-directed by Charlie Josephine (they/he) and Sean Holmes (he/him), Cowbois provides a refreshing take on trans stories. It isn’t too often that you see a trans bandit who is “feared as the slickest gunslinger in The West” and also is known to have a singing voice that can seduce women across the country.
Packed with gloriously validating moments, Cowbois is the epitome of queer joy. From the town’s support of a character’s new pronouns to the sheriff breaking down all gender norms with his fabulous outfits, the play is thoroughly enjoyable. Cowbois refuses to shy away from its portrayal of queer lives. It isn’t every day you see a trans sex scene on stage, let alone one so intimate and thoughtful.
There is an infinite amount of fun in this play. Any time the pious Sally Ann (Emma Pallant) or feisty Jayne (Lucy McCormick) comes on stage, the audience soon falls into hysterics. Another real showstopper performance comes from LJ Parkinson (they/them) who plays the bounty hunter One-Eyed-Charley. Despite coming on halfway through Act Two, LJ’s performance has every member of the audience under their thumb (and also wondering where we could buy our own black cowboy outfit). A special mention must go to the costumes of Cowbois, and notably to the Sheriff’s hat in the final scene which I now want my own version of.
While the play is packed full of laughter, physical comedy, and amazing dance breaks, the core message at its heart leaves no dry eye in the house. After a tense shootout, Jack looks out at the audience. “We won, for now. But there’ll be more. There’s always more.” At a time when it feels like transphobia is at an all-time high, characters like Jack stand tall as examples of why we need trans representation on the stage.
DIVA magazine celebrates 29 years in print in 2023. If you like what we do, then get behind LGBTQIA media and keep us going for another generation. Your support is invaluable.