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Charolais

Theatre Review by Howard Miller - August 31, 2017


Noni Stapleton
Photo by Hunter Canning

Truly, you haven't lived until you've heard a lusty French Charolais heifer mooningly mooing a rendition of "La Vie En Rose" while daydreaming about breeding with a "bull of excellent pedigree." That is just one of the gloriously rich and comic moments in Charolais, a solo play written and performed by the Irish actress and playwright Noni Stapleton, opening tonight at 59E59 Theaters.

Moo-La-La! What a tale Ms. Stapleton weaves in the 65-minute monologue in which she plays both the title cow and Siobhan, who comes to work on a farm and develops an immediate lust for her employer, Jimmy. "I like country boys," she explains. "Cause they're mucky. And they talk slow. And they don't stand too close t'ya cause they're used ta sayin' hello over walls and hedges and from the top of tractors."

The problem here is that in order to get her man, she has to drag his attention away from his precious Charolais, whom he once spent three hours single-handedly heaving out of a muddy ditch. She also has to keep Jimmy's domineering mother Breda (the "thunderin' auld bitch") from interfering. The two women develop an immediate dislike for one another, and it is clear Jimmy will need to be pushed into standing up to his ma, even after Siobhan is pregnant with his child.

Never was there a rivalry as the one Siobhan must confront. What with the heifer, the mother, and her raging hormones assailing her on all sides, is it any wonder that she starts scheming about murdering both the cow and Breda?

Noni Stapleton is a marvel as she alternates between the roles of Siobhan and the cow. All it takes is whipping off the tie from her ponytail and going into a slouch to make the transformation. It's hard to say which character is more outlandishly funny, the crazed and homicide-bent Siobhan, or the crazed and dreamy Charolais, her spirit crushed upon learning she has been artificially inseminated. In real life, you'd probably want to steer clear of both. But safely ensconced in your theater seat, you are in for an evening that both delights and surprises, especially as it leads to an unexpected conclusion that brings Siobhan, Breda, and the heifer together, if only for a brief moment before a final twist settles things once and for all.


Charolais
Through September 24
59E59 Theater C, 59 East 59th Street, between Park and Madison Avenues
Tickets online and current Performance Schedule: TicketCentral


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