By Dee Jae Cox
The English word troubadour is derived from a French word first recorded in 1575 in an historical context to mean a poet who carried messages from one town to the next, sometimes from one lover to another.
Richard Byford’s, The Heart of a Gypsy Troubadour weaves the adventures of his life into a poetic cadence and performance. The set and props are simple, each story transitioned by a hat or a jacket as his folksy songs add another layer to the telling of his life. Not all life adventures are worth the retelling and some more interesting to those involved than observers once removed, but as the phases of his life unfold, we catch glimmers of what it means to live a life filled with ambition and promise.
Gypsy Troubadour is a history of self-examination, a journey from the writer’s conception in the back of a car at the end of World War II, through is his accomplished career as the other half of ‘Richard & Mary’, a successful folk duo known for their unique musical storytelling.
Richard Byford’s transformation into an Arctic gold miner in the lyrical, ‘Cremation of Sam McGee,’ by poet Robert W. Service, was brilliant. It was the highlight of the show as Mr. Byford donned a winter cap, flaps hanging over his ears and stooped into the posture of a weary old man, held upright only by the aid of a walking stick. The poetry of the story was magical and vivid and engaging to watch.
There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.
With only a cowboy hat and a guitar, the audience was taken to the rodeo and cheering when Maurice, the rodeo’s rebel horse was rescued from a certain fated demise and so began a 29 year friendship between a man and his horse.
Richard Byford’s, one man show is poetry in motion, fluid and flowing like a stream through the stages of a life well lived. The occasional backdrop of slides adds color and visual images to the performance, breaking up the monologue and providing a welcome enhancement to the storytelling.
The Sunday, December 14th performance was listed as a private matinee at the Indio Performing Arts Center, IPAC, in Indio.
The Indio Performing Arts Center (IPAC) is a beautiful facility with 3 theatres that serves the Indio and surrounding desert communities. It is located at 45-175 Fargo Street , Indio, CA 92201
Dee Jae Cox, is a playwright, director and producer. She is the Cofounder and Artistic Director for The Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Project and the host of KPTR 1450’s hit radio show, “California Woman 411” in Palm Springs.