May 26, 2009, Factory Studio Theatre, Toronto.
Cowboys and Indians ( A person of colour stuck in the Wild West) deserved all the applause.
Anand Rajaram’s one-person performance was funny, abundantly physical, and very entertaining. But he had help.
Bob Wiseman’s bluesy score and keyboard grooves provided just the right emphasis for this skewed story about cultural identity — Who? and Where? is the Indian?
Many times, it was like watching a silent movie as the rousing piano played to the silent and busy actor on stage.
Dressed in a hat and brown jacket as the Cowboy; or dressed in beige trousers and an East Indian shirt as the Indian, Rajaram approached these mythological roles with a direct and sure sense of physical comedy.
As he mimed scenes from the Wild West — scenes like Indians on the warpath, a Tenderfoot stepping in horse turds, or the classic shoot ’em up in a Western bar — Rajaram’s face, torso, arms and legs, became the main attraction and occasionally the sense of a story line got lost. This was not necessarily a bad thing.
Based on the ‘fish out of water’ story, Cowboys and Indians played out as an entertaining East-Western show that, all the same, started to feel a little overlong.
But praise for Rajaram’s craft — the silent clown-mime tradition — is absolutely mandatory.
He depicted the loaded cultural myths of the Wild West with energy, humour, charm, and simplicity.
David Fujino is an actor, poet, and musician.