Georgia Vyvyan and Julia Pilkington on Cowboys and Lesbians

Georgia Vyvyan (left) and Julia Pilkington (right)

Celebrating queer joy this LGBTQIA+ History month, Edinburgh Fringe hit Cowboys and Lesbians transfers to the Park Theatre this week. The heart-warming modern-day love story, starring two sarcastic British teenagers, as they take on Hollywood’s typical first love clichés and flip them on their head, generating a new genre of romantic comedy for all.

Billie Esplen’s modern-day lesbian love story, delves into the harmful effect of heteronormativity and queer tragedising in mainstream movies, TV and theatre. The production is directed by Esplen and stars Georgia Vyvyan and Julia Pilkington, who transfer with the play from Edinburgh.

Ahead of opening we caught up with both Vyvyan and Pilkington to find out more about what it’s like to be taking this love story to London.

Q&A with Georgia Vyvyan and Julia Pilkington

What can you tell us about Cowboys and Lesbians?

Georgia: I’d describe Cowboys and Lesbians as a heart-warming and hilarious coming of age rom-com.

Julia: It’s a rootin’ tooting joy of a show and you should absolutely come. 

What was it that attracted you to Esplen’s play?

Georgia: The dialogue is so good. I hadn’t come across such naturalistic, pithy dialogue that works for theatre in a long time. It was also just very refreshing to see a queer love story being told in such a recognisable awkward-teenage way without it being patronising or over-sentimental.

Julia: The two central characters are such real teenagers in all their naivety, humour and charm. I definitely had an uncanny sense of identification with the characters when I first read the play. 

Production image: Photo: Lidia Crisafulli 

What is it like to be transferring the show from Edinburgh Fringe to London’s Park Theatre?

Julia: Very very exciting! The Park is lush! Nice not to be flyering the streets of Edinburgh either! 

Georgia: It’s really exciting to get to share this play with people who either couldn’t see it at the Fringe or people who have said they wanted to see it again with friends and family. It’s such a playful show so it’s really fun to get to do it again and discover new ways to tell the story.

Cowboys and Lesbians was noted as being one of a collection of uplifting LGBTQIA+ shows at last year’s Fringe – just how important is it to ensure stories like this continue to be told?

Julia: I think its important to tell LGBTQIA+ stories that place love and joy at their core. Its such a fun ride; a gay rom-com with a splash of camp western parody to boot. 

Georgia: It’s incredibly important. The show is so heart-warming and real. I think it shows how easily queer narratives can and should be in the mainstream.

What do you hope audiences take away from the production?

Georgia: Hopefully, people will have a good laugh (and maybe a little sob). So far, I think people seem to leave the show feeling a bit more compassionate towards their younger awkward selves – an hour of sexy cowboy impressions will do that to a person.

Julia: A smile. Georgia’s dad called it ‘life-affirming’ so hopefully that too. 

Cowboys and Lesbians plays at the Park Theatre from 21 February to 9 March 2024.