Theatre Review | Cock

Theatre Review

Cock

Stooged Theatre, at the Royal Exchange, Newcastle

Ends November 19

MIKE Bartlett’s comedy-drama Cock has mostly won rave reviews since it premiered in London in 2009 for its look at the relationships between a young man who is increasingly unsure of his sexuality, his gay male partner, and a woman he meets while travelling to work, with the pair attracted to each other.

This production, which observes the playwright’s call for it to be performed in a plain setting, is certainly intriguing, with director Mathew Lee and the four-member cast bringing out the characters’ concerns about exploring their identities as well as defining their relationships. I was, nonetheless, left with the feeling at the end that there was too much repetition of the attitudes and beliefs, and that the 110-minute interval-free production could have been tighter. Still, it is an interesting and very different work, moving about in time and place. The first 30 minutes show the changing nature of the association between Benjamin Louttit’s John, who has been attached for seven years to his partner, known as M (Drew Holmes), and the next half-hour focusing on John and the woman, W (Elise Bialek). A dinner meeting between the three, with M’s sharply-worded father, F (Alan Glover), takes up most of the remaining time. By the end, it is clear that the title is largely a reference to the growing cock fight in the lives of the two young men, shown in scenes such as one that has M snappily telling the briefly returned John that “You’re a stream. I wanted a river”.