Cock: Review

  • Date : 20th January 2016
  • 436 Views

It is now a very  common theatrical experience for a  playwright to  stage a play without an interval,  creating in most cases an uninterrupted  100 mins of pure delight. Mike Bartlett’s  COCK directed by  Ian Higham is that and more.
From the start there is an amusing request made to the audience with polite notices on the theatre bar walls asking the patrons if they do have the stamina  to go 100 mins without fear of a leaking bladder  or any other emergency that may hinder their enjoyment.  This could of been an ominous warning as the feeling of being trapped inside a theatre watching something that was not good does send shivers,. This is a play that can described as a spectator sport. The audience are placed on all 4 sides of the performance space  with a red light strip serving as the barrier, like a boxing ring or  perhaps the comparison could be made to a cock fighting pit.

As the play gets underway there is  the most  clever use  of a bout bell  sound effect   to count the rounds off. extremely imaginative , adding in number as each scene plays out  and with the use of very quick and sharp fades to black the tension builds beautifully, Craig Bates as John gives  a wonderful and completely pivotal performance . Again Bartlett is splendid here , only giving the character of John a name as he is the only one that  really matters This is his life with   Liam  Hallinan   as M, Ellen Fife as W and Ian Recordson as F  offering fantastic support, Perhaps  the M stands for Man, the W for Woman and the F for Father.  There is a stoicism  to these characters which starts to break down as the play comes to an eventful climax. The humour of the play is  right on the money and this simple , no set , no props production   does not affect the power of this play,.

Bartlett does pose the  question, ‘Is it possible to have the best  of both worlds, to have your cake and eat it too”  and via a very captivating narrative allows the audience to make up their own minds. This is a wonderful study in human character relationships  and subsequent consequences told by a cast that have a firm grip on the material. Also as a comedy of manners, COCK is rather special as Ian Higham’s direction is full of panache and flair.

At the heart of this play is the need to  survive and the  search  for happiness. These sentiments and emotions are of course often achieved by power struggles, manipulation , Cock is great story telling  showcasing a true dilemma of the heart and mind, Pop along to the theatre to find out how it turns out   4 stars

Stephen Vowles

 

Cock Putney 2016 140 Cock Putney 2016 104 Cock Putney 2016 088 Cock Putney 2016 210
COCK is at the Putney Arts Theatre, check out the web banners on the gayabouttown.london web site  to book tickets

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