Cow is billed as a rural tragi-comedy with songs, though it is more of a one person show about rural life.
A woman leaves her liberal, metropolitan, elite London life to help out on her father’s farm, as he struggles to cope after the loss of her mother. With excellently observed tales of farm life, a gripping central performance and a huge stuffed cow, Cow is a treat not just for rural audiences, but for everyone.
I must admit having grown up in a hamlet and my grand dad being a cattle farmer, I was pleased to see that this play did not patronise its source material (no Hammy accents and racism). It is both fresh and invigorating.
Jessica Barker-Wren (the writer and performer of this piece) needs a tractor. We don’t know why until the end,of the play, we just know she needs one. But, she isn’t alone in her battle to get one. She has a friendly cow on her side. On her journey to source a tractor, she meets many other village characters, all strapping country men who seem to be her type. She attempts to barter for a tractor but finds it somewhat difficult to get back into country life. The animals are loose and her dad has gone and got some pigs (a big no no in Devon).
The script is excellently written. “Meat is murder, milk is rape, everyone in London is a vegan” beautifully sums up the country-city internal conflict. However, there are some odd moments of the piece, namely a very long dance routine about cutting up fallen trees which although entertaining does seem like it is from a different play. And although it is a tragi-comedy with songs, it isn’t particularly funny. On the flip-side though, the songs a beautifully sung but slightly shoe-horned in.
Apart from these faults, the piece as a whole is beautiful. From an unrepresented part of society telling an unrelenting, honest story, Cow is a treat.
Cow is playing at Underbelly until August 27. For more information and tickets, go to