Originally written for The Public Reviews
Pecos Bill was raised by coyotes. He rides a horse called Widow-maker and is in love with a girl who rides on the back of a giant catfish. He once lassoed a tornado. He is one of the lesser known larger-than-life characters to have roamed the folklore of the Old West, alongside Paul Bunyan and John Henry. He is also the key thread running through Greg Wohead’s tale of imagination, detachment and belonging.
As himself, Greg slowly packs his bags to leave Texas, memorising every detail that takes him one step further from home. As Bill, he runs with coyotes, creates the Gulf of Mexico and invents music. Greg tries to ride a rollercoaster at the state fair with a beautiful girl; Bill shoots all but one of the stars from the sky for his fiancé.
The interweaving of the mundane and the fantastic creates a clever evocation of the ways in which we internalise and idealise the places we come from, and how we cope with change. The mind conjures up the fantastic to cope with the ordinary. Wohead’s is a nervous and faltering charm, engaging but not always carrying the force and pace of the tales he tells.
The Many Apologies of Pecos Bill is a journey without any particular destination, which may not appeal to all, but it is a cheerful and diverting trip through modern and mythologised Texas, and can be counted among the few performances in which you get to create your own thunderstorm.