Midnight Cowboy Breaks Hearts, Condoms

Andrew Gombas, Staff Writer

I saw a cowboy have sex several times last weekend. I also saw Midnight Cowboy, a theatrical adaptation of the first X-rated movie ever to win an Oscar, and, to channel the cheerful simplicity of the titular character, it was a damn good time.

The story follows young Joe Buck, a Texas 20-something who, upon discovering that he just might have a bit of talent in the lovemaking department, decides to ship off to New York to become a “hustler.” Here he meets a cacophony of wild and zany characters, has sex with some of them, befriends others and ultimately escapes to Florida with his dead best friend, covered in urine in the seat next to him.

My horrible synopsis aside, it was a funny, scary, moving piece that, despite a few hang-ups, managed to win the audience over and hold it captive till the end.

In spite of the fact that there were a whopping 30 scenes, plus or minus, throughout the entire play, the action ran very smoothly. Ignoring a few confusing and, at times, incomprehensible moments at the show’s beginning, the audience seemed completely engaged and relaxed despite the long run time. Kudos to director and editor College senior Andy Sold for stitching together so seamlessly a show that could have so easily been unbearable.

College senior Joe Hamilton performed the role of Joe so naturally that it was impossible not to find yourself grinning stupidly along with him as he explored the streets of New York. It was flooring to discover that Hamilton had not had any theater experience since high school. However, it was his pairing with College junior Robert Salazar as Enrico Salvatore “Ratso” Rizzo that was truly genius. Their chemistry was so immediate that you could actually see the audience settle into their chairs as their first scene began. It was obvious they had spent a great deal of their character work bouncing off of each other, expressing a level of comfort on stage with one another that was refreshing.

Salazar was incredible as Rizzo, taking a character that Dustin Hoffman made iconic in the film and transforming it completely into his own. Anyone who has seen Salazar act before knows that he is a master at playing big characters with big depth, and he pulled it off yet again with his hilarious yet touching portrayal of Ratso.

Another standout was College senior Sam Abrams as Cass, a Shiatsu-toting New York socialite who gets Joe to pay her for sex, unaware that he is himself a hustler. Abrams, who is usually behind the scenes as a director, got a chance to flex her acting chops, and the results were predictably funny and on-point.

The cast as a whole was extremely effective, presenting itself convincingly as a collage of New York, swirling around the bewildered yet optimistic Joe like the maelstrom that is the Big Apple. Although there were issues with the script that would take too long to adequately and eloquently articulate here, the show was, in my humble opinion, a great success. Ride on, cowboy.