Cowboy v. Samurai

Cowboy v. Samurai


With: Timothy Davis, Joel de la Fuente, C. S. Lee, Hana Moon

Directed by Lloyd Suh


Previews: 11/4/05 – 11/6/05
Run: 11/8/05 – 11/27/05

Rattlestick Theater
224 Waverly Place
between Perry St and W 11th St.
(1, 2, or 3 train to 14th Street)

Tuesdays – Saturdays, 7:00 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays, 3:00 p.m.
(except: Thursday, 11/24 – No show Friday, 11/25 – 3:00 and 7:00 shows)
Tickets: $15 (preview), $19 (run)

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Production Staff

Sarah Lambert: Set Designer
Stephen Petrilli: Lighting Designer
Elly van Horne: Costume Designer


“In Cowboy v. Samurai, Michael Golamco’s freshly acute (and hilarious) reinvention of the classic Cyrano de Bergerac story, characters negotiate the sketchy terrain of romantic attraction as they wrestle with expectations, reservations, pride, and prejudice. The National Asian American Theater Company has produced a superb incarnation of Golamco’s script.

Under Lloyd Suh’s polished direction, the cast delivers crystal-clear performances. Cowboy v. Samurai successfully avoids becoming a one-joke (or one-note) show. Instead, the precise performances of four distinct characters eloquently explore how we create identity, all brought into stark focus within the barren landscape (or blank canvas?) of a tiny Wyoming town. With exquisite moments of truth, hilarity, and despair, the play is a thoughtful, thoroughly compelling piece of theater that abandons the simple question of whether like attracts like. Instead, we are left wondering, Should like attract like? Why or why not? And at what cost?”

(Off Off Online)

“As an inaugural effort, Golamco’s script is a decided success. Golamco borrows the concept of Rostand’s original, but dispenses with subplots, meta-theatrical devices, and even the much celebrated balcony scene in favor of his own voice and concerns. Neither a cautious update of Cyrano nor an earnest meditation on Asian American identity, the play instead offers a gentle, genial, and frequently rather wise comedy of character and race. If substituting attractive Asian features for an outrageously outsize snout seems a troubling trade-off, Golamco actually uses the premise to nose out questions of appearance and assimilation.”

(Alexis Soloski: Village Voice)

“Cowboy v. Samurai, the new play by Michael Golamco at National Asian American Theatre Company (NAATCO), is a very funny, very pertinent, and very smart riff on Rostand’s classic romance Cyrano de Bergerac. NAATCO’s production of Cowboy v. Samurai is excellent, featuring sharp, well-paced direction by Lloyd Suh, a terrifically spare but evocative set by Sarah Lambert, and outstanding production values. Joel de la Fuente, C.S. Lee, and Timothy Davis all do fine work as Travis, Chester, and Del, respectively. Overall this is really commendable work, not least for bringing a provocative and entertaining play to the stage that raises some valuable questions about the potent side effects that racial identity and stereotyping can have on how we see each other and ourselves.”

(Martin Denton:

‘Race has nothing to do with being attracted to someone,’ says Travis, the protagonist of Michael Golamco’s Cowboy v. Samurai. But in this witty, satiric comedy, that statement is challenged over and over again as the playwright updates and adapts Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac, substituting race for an oversized nose as the central issue. While all of the play’s major plot points are based on Cyrano, Golamco’s focus is on contemporary race relations. Racial humor is prevalent in the play as Golamco satirizes militant views on racial purity and skewers stereotypes that inform the ways in which Asian Americans are perceived. Cowboy v. Samurai also addresses more complex issues of self-identification and self-hatred. Similar to Cyrano’s famous speech in which he insults himself in a far more grand manner than anyone else is capable of, this scene drives home the fact that such negative perceptions have become internalized. De la Fuente is terrific as Travis, at once confident and insecure. Lee is a hoot as Chester, making the character’s increasingly wacky attempts to find his identity endearing and, in an odd way, believable. Davis has an easy charm and swagger appropriate to his character; the role as written could easily become flat or stereotypical, but the actor plays it with a goofy amiability.



Timothy Davis, Joel de la Fuente
Timothy Davis, Joel de la Fuente
(Photographer: Sarah Lambert)

C.S. Lee, Joel de la Fuente
C.S. Lee, Joel de la Fuente
(Photographer: Sarah Lambert)

Joel del la Fuente and Hana Moon
Joel del la Fuente and Hana Moon
(Photographer: Sarah Lambert)

Joel del la Fuente and Hana Moon
Joel del la Fuente and Hana Moon
(Photographer: Sarah Lambert)


Adapted from Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac

Cowboy v. Samurai is a contemporary retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac set in the mythic American West. When a beautiful Asian American woman moves to Breakneck, Wyoming, everyone’s in love – the samurai who doesn’t know who he is, the cowboy with the chew and blue jeans, and especially our Cyrano, an Asian American hero who doesn’t stand a chance. In this lyric romantic comedy from one of Asian America’s most exciting young playwrights, love letters are sealed and bound, horses set ablaze and the history of railroads deconstructed. Cowboy v. Samurai makes the problems of race as plain as the nose on your face.

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