Cock

Shaun Goss and Matthew Connell in Cock - photo by Madeline BannenbergYou can make the argument for a few reasons why playwright Mike Bartlett called his play, Cock, but by the end of the play the main thought is that the central character, John, is really just a bit of a one.

It’s fascinating to have a show built around such a loathsome, immature, character. It’s an engaging role (if by emotional engagement you mean the audience suffering white-hot rage) and one played well by Matthew Connell. He seems to capture perfectly the immature dilemma of a child.

Despite having a boyfriend, John has taken a female lover. Both know about the other and both want John to choose them exclusively. Scared of pain and not wanting to have to choose, John takes the juvenile path of refusing to make any choice at all, thus ensuring the most destruction.

There’s nothing redeeming about John, which Matthew brings out well and organically over the play. What seems like natural stillness in the beginning becomes a sulk by the end. You are left wondering fairly early on what it is about John that his two paramours seem so invested in, but love is rarely comfortable and abrasion feels like one of the qualities Bartlett has intentionally worked into his script.

Shaun Goss was terrific as the boyfriend, although it took some time for the performance to settle. The initial rampant clowning by Shaun certainly spreads the action around the audience, seated in a rough hexagon around the actors, but his character was never as effective as during the times he stopped, considered John and talked to him face-to-face.

Marissa O’Reilly was excellent as John’s lover, even as their scenes together came across as more functional than romantic. Scott Gooding gave a capable performance as John’s boyfriend’s father.

As the play progresses, you realise it works best when operating in spite of its design elements. When actors stopped standing at opposite ends of the room, when physical hijinks fell away, when character simply connected with each other – it sung; A sad, tragic song, but worth listening to.


Cock
fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Performance: Wednesday 30 January 2019 – 7.30pm
Season continues to 10 February 2019
Bookings: www.fortyfivedownstairs.com or www.midsumma.org.au

For more information, visit: www.15minutesfromanywhere.com for details.

Image: Shaun Goss and Matthew Connell in Cock – photo by Madeline Bannenberg

Review: David Collins

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