The Many Apologies Of Pecos Bill

Reviewer's Rating

Fresh, short and engaging, with humour rippling through – Greg Wohead’s monologue show (plus musical accompanist) is just the sort of show you want to pop up at a small, easy, quirky venue like the Battersea Arts Centre. As a member of the audience, you take your seat, are briefly enlisted into creating “Texas rain” (a kind of Mexican wave of sound, which Wohead records on a retro-looking machine to bank for the last moments of the play), then sit back and listen to interweaving stories of “two Texans” – which are almost but not quite different versions of Wohead’s own life or his imagined life. With only a precarious step ladder and a microphone for props (well, those and musician Mat Martin, who strums all throughout), we hear the magical realist tale of Pecos Bill, raised by coyotes with a horse called Widowmaker which he lassoed with a rattlesnake… and, interwoven into it, of Greg, a 14-year-old boy who tries to chat up a girl at the county fair.

Wohead’s performance is best described as “lovely”. His blue eyes (gosh, they are blue) hook you from the start like Pecos Bill’s lasso, and his artfully stumbling delivery is so convincingly anecdotal that you could be listening to one of those guys in a bar who decides to give his life story. His script (however scripted it is – it seems so natural that much of it could be ad lib) is wryly comic – “I don’t remember much and going up with coyotes” is how Bill’s unusual childhood is introduced to us – and follows an arc that captivates you across the 60 minutes that Wohead is onstage. His accent isn’t aggressively Texan, either – which makes it easier for us Brits.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable, witty piece of theatre which is understated yet intelligently executed. Definitely worth an hour of anyone’s time