07
Apr
14

COCK

 

Cock

MTC & La Boite

Roundhouse Theatre

March 27 – April 12 2014

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

 

“What are you?”

 

 

A white cushioned floor and no way out. Bright fight lights and Dad as referee. Trapped. “This isn’t what I want. I think this is easier.”

 

cock1_imagebyseandowling

 

It’s a shame Mike Bartlett felt that “Cock” was the best title for his superbly crafted play about a young man crippled by indecision, and the people he damages during a soul-searching journey that takes him right back to where he began. At first, the title intrigued me and I very easily accepted that it might imply at least two different meanings but having seen it I wonder if something softer, gentler, and a little more tender might not be more apt.

 

cock3

 

Cock is a beautiful, beautiful play. Don’t be fooled into thinking you’ll get away lightly after a night of comedy. It’s funny – really funny – and you’ll be leaning forward and laughing out loud like Sam did (well, perhaps not as loudly as Sam; remember, he’s been on location for a horror film so for him this was an evening of true comic relief), but it’s devastating too, and you might, before you know it, need to swipe a hot tear from your cheek. Bartlett’s writing is real, so real that…it’s almost not like a play at all. At times it’s more like bearing witness to that sort of awkward scene from real life, you know, that takes place in a coffee shop while you’re waiting on your carrot cake and latte, and trying not to stare as a couple discuss in whispers and shouts over the top of a tiny table about who’s to blame for the break up, and please refrain from discussing it in front of the children BUT LET’S TALK ABOUT IT NOW, HERE, IN THIS VERY BUSY PUBLIC PLACE AT LUNCHTIME. I KNOW. AWK-WARD.

 

cock4

 

Just like life, Cock doesn’t stop for long, not even in its silences. At the same time, the opportunities for contemplation are abundant, coming frequently in the middle of unfinished sentences and defiant statements that sting like a slap to the cheek.

 

 

I’ve remembered what I was going to say. You’re not as good looking as you think.

 

Right.

 

Yes. That’s… You’re lucky to have me. Okay?

 

 

The writing is actually brilliant; it’s sharp and smart, leaving nothing to chance and at the same time leaving a considerable amount unsaid. MTC have brought the best people right to the edge of something we see extremely rarely – actual reality in the acting. Although it’s strange to hear the British references to pounds and things in Australian accents, we let it go because for us, here, seeing what we see in this city, in this state, in this country, it’s more important to just take it all in – the language, the structure, the content, the questions… Marg Howell’s design, comprising of masses of cushions, supports the action physically and metaphorically, and allow it to settle. And unsettle. In the hands of a less intuitive director, this set would have presented many problems.

 

Cock is the most interesting, most intense production I’ve seen in a long time. Director, Leticia Caceres has made sure of it, bringing Eamon Flack into the cast for the Brisbane season. Flack joins Tom Conroy and Sophie Ross in a love triangle fuelled by confusion, indecision and perhaps just a little too much honesty. It feels like we know them and need to protect them…they’re our wonderful, strange, delightful, hopeless friends after all. Yeah, you know them. Tony Rickards brings both warmth and menace to the role of M’s father. You know him too.

 

Cock is the best live theatre you can expect to see at the moment. Yes, I know what else is on; I’m still struggling to arrange the words to describe how I feel about it. It’s this one that will haunt you. You’ll either be clenching your core and physically hurting by the end of it or trying not to feel at all.

 

Cock finishes this week. I doubt you’ll get in to see it at this late stage, and I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to tell you to do so via this blog (if you follow me on Insta and Twitter you already knew how impressed I was by this production), but fight for a ticket if you have to. And if you have a ticket and can’t get to the show don’t be the reason somebody else misses out. A quick call to Box Office to let them know you’re gonna’ be a no show is the right thing to do. I’d go again if I could. But I can’t so I’m going to listen to this and this again instead. It makes my heart ache.

 

cock2_imagebyseandowling

 

 

You would rather throw our whole lives away than make a decision.

I just want to be happy.

I can’t.

This isn’t what I want. I think this is easier.

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