Sam Shepard and Patti Smith penned this wild-eyed two-hander back in 1971, a short play that feels like something birthed during a drinking game on a hot afternoon.

There is no plot, as such. Cavale and Slim are holed up in a dingy room. Slim is having some doubts as to the value of the relationship and seems keen to get back to the wife and child he’s abandoned for Cavale’s assurances that she can help him become a rock’n’roll star.

Austen Hayden and Natassa Zoe in Cowboy Mouth. Photo supplied

It’s a fascinating relic of the era, when theatre, rock music and poetry were colliding and when the idea that any of those art forms could change the world was looking more like a pipe dream. There’s also a giant lobster. Go figure.

Directed by Anna Houston on a flop house set and energetically performed by Natassa Zoe and Austen Hayden, Cowboy Mouth looks the part and feels it, too. Clarity is sacrificed to emotion at times, but between them Zoe and Hayden whip up an engrossing storm of semi-poetic musings mixed with fierce grappling and chaotic outings on electric guitar and drums.

The show is over in a passionately sweaty 50 minutes but wait, there’s more: stick around for a live band next door. Genuine rock’n’roll theatre, people. Git to it.


Cowboy Mouth plays at Flight Path Theatre, Marrickville until 30 March.

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