HORSE COUNTRY by CJ Hopkins
- Presented by TTI & Clancy Productions present
- European première
Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh Fringe 2002
- National UK Tour 2003.
- Riverside Studios London, March April 2003
- By C.J. Hopkins
- Directed by John Clancy
- Performed by David Calvitto and Ben Schneider
THE BEST PLAY OF EDINBURGH 2002!
WINNER: SCOTSMAN FRINGE FIRST AWARD 2002
WINNER: SCOTSMAN BEST OF THE FIRSTS AWARD 2002
WINNER: THE STAGE BEST ACTOR 2002 (David Calvitto)
Beckett meets Artaud in an absurd, funny and provocative take on early 21st Century American culture, from one of New York's leading new writers. CJ Hopkins, one of America's most idiosyncratic voices, has become known for creating quintessentially American and darkly pessimistic texts about the culture's love affair with authority and consumerism...
HORSE COUNTRY is an absurdist love affair with words that begins as the banter between Bob and Sam, two seasoned comedy pros, but quickly becomes a relentless, ravenous examination of our behaviour, values and beliefs. As they slump at a table littered with the detritus of consumerism, their discussion ranges from card games to fishing trips to talking seal acts, and yet everything this hilarious yet ominous duo touch on takes on a deeper and more urgent meaning as the play seeps beyond the edge of the stage.
C. J. Hopkins' heavily existential text takes on themes of genocide, despair, abuse and brutality, leavened with boredom, geniality and humour. HORSE COUNTRY is destined to become a classic of early 21st Century theatre; a complex and provocative snapshot of the time when global capitalism emerged as the single most powerful force in the world, and we are just waking up to the realisation of a supremely hollow victory.
Directed by John Clancy (Also directed AMERICANA ABSURDUM, GONER, THE COMPLETE LOST WORKS OF SAMUEL BECKETT... & CINCINATTI), David Calvitto (also of GONER) and Ben Schneider (also of THE COMPLETE LOST WORKS OF SAMUEL BECKETT...) team up as Bob and Sam in this unsurpassed comic theatre ritual that has propelled Hopkins into the top ranks of contemporary American playwrights.
In 2002, John Clancy and Guy Masterson presented Horse Country at the Edinburgh Festival where it quickly emerged as perhaps the finest new work on the Fringe. January 2002 it returned to Edinburgh to open a full UK tour at the Traverse Theatre. It opens in London (with THE COMPLETE LOST WORKS OF SAMUEL BECKETT) at the Riverside Studios for 6 weeks closely followed by presentations at the World Stage Festival in Toronto and The Brighton Festival. In 2004 it will tour to Australasia and Hong Kong - among other destinations.
Horse Country Reviews
edinburghguide.com, 4 August 2002
"A slick and ironic piece of existentialism. . . CJ Hopkins is a consummate wordsmith. His dialogue is rattled off at stunning speed by Ben Schneider and David Calvitto. Their timing is perfection, and Calvitto has a delightful line in fatuous facial expressions. . . A fine piece of writing and compelling theatre."(Jackie Fletcher)
The Stage, 9 August 2002
WINNER: BEST ACTOR 2002 (Dave Calvitto)
"A session of philosophical furniture trashing. CJ Hopkins' play is a timely re-examination of the wild, wild West - the 'horse country' - brimming with inverted commas and a post-apocalyptic sentiment that is also in line with the finest of American avant-garde theatre tradition. Ben Schneider's unsettled Sam is a perfect comic partner to David Calvitto's sensible, if slightly menacing Bob." (Duska Radosavljevic Heaney)
The Scotsman, 10 August 2002
WINNER: SCOTSMAN FRINGE FIRST 2002
WINNER SCOTSMAN BEST OF THE FIRSTS 2002
"Sometimes, the best shows come swerving at you when you least expect them. . . .it becomes clear that we're in the presence of a really substantial piece of theatre here; sharp, brilliant, intense, fast-moving, made for the moment we live in. At heart, Horse Country is a new Waiting for Godot set in contemporary America; the two speakers in CJ Hopkins' text are off-duty 'regular guys', perhaps policemen, who have lost the nine of diamonds from their deck of cards, and therefore, for all their bluster, don't know what to do next. . . .Their task is to take us on a tour not of the human condition in general, but of the human condition as filtered through the presumptions and values of mainstream America today. . .There's no faulting John Clancy's superb direction; or the blistering, brilliantly-observed performances given by New York actors Dave Calvitto and Ben Schneider, in one of the finest shows of the Fringe." (Joyce Macmillan)
Metro, 13 August 2002
"A feral ferris-wheel of comedy, confusion, contradiction, obfuscation and bent-out-of-shape straight talking that leaps out of the room at you and harnesses you to its mischievous mindset. . . All of it laced with big ideas wrapped in deceptively mercurial chattering. . . Quite magnificent high-octane comic brio by David Calvitto and Ben Schneider. . . It is the verbal pyrotechnics of the text itself which makes Horse Country special. . . This is one philosophical nag that looks set to run and run." (Alan Chadwick)
The List, 15 August 2002
"How many surrealists does it take to change a lightbulb? A fish. Fish can't be trained. But horses can. Just a little taster of CJ Hopkins' new play, brought over from the States by Guy Masterson. . . Hopkins' text is stimulating and thought-provoking. Its rhythm creates a pace that runs on climaxes and come-downs, reminiscent in style and content of both Edward Albee, and life. With John Clancy's precise direction, and David Calvitto and Ben Schneider's well-timed performances, this is a welcome addition to the canon of all things absurd and beautiful." (Mererid Williams)
The Herald, 19 August 2002
WINNER: HERALD ANGEL (John Clancy)
"Equipped as it is with the men in black machine gun exchange of Quentin Tarantino by way of Beckett, C J Hopkins's deceptively small but perfectly formed duologue is near-perfect 21st-century pop cultural off-the-record exchange. Performed brilliantly by David Calvitto and Ben Schneider. . . John Clancy's production is the epitome of off-off Broadway skew-wiffly, and hilariously at odds with the mainstream, and much bigger and deeper than the sum of its apparent parts." (Neil Cooper)
The Guardian, 20 August 2002
"Fascinating. . . CJ Hopkins' two-hander brings the spirit of Godot to America's bars and puts the bourbon in Beckett. It feels like a serious piece of theatre rather than Fringe fluff. . . Brilliantly directed by John Clancy and acted with terrific flair and feel by Ben Schneider and David Calvitto." (Lyn Gardner)
The Sunday Herald, 25 August 2002
"Breakneck pace. . . Engaging nonsense. . . David Calvitto and Ben Schneider manage to sustain this extended buttonhole with an aplomb that makes me want to see them as Vladimir and Estragon." (Dan Bye)
Off New York's Journal of Alternative Theatre and Arts (USA)
"a dense tapestry of words, woven before our eyes from a wild tangle of threads"
Theatre Reviews Unlimited (USA)
"Stunning, bordering on genius... brilliantly written, brilliantly acted, brilliantly directed... one of those classics we will talk about 50 years from now"
Philadelphia Inquirer (USA)
"provocative, funny and... quite a trip"
"There is something strangely invigorating about the plays of CJ Hopkins. More abstract than Shepard, more concrete than Mamet... casually exacts a world of tense and crazy beings reaching desperately, ambivalently for... what? ... An ominous yet hilarious interchange between two of the most brilliant idiots one has ever been forced to enjoy"