Is Cock Worth Swallowing? My Review

Categories: Theater

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Tired of paying to see a lesbian couple reach a crisis point when one of them sleeps with a man?

Well, Cock--by British author Mike Bartlett--makes it a gay male couple that hits a crisis point when one of them sleeps with a woman.

Otherwise, it's not all that newish.

The characters bicker with lots of jabs, cultural references, and wisecracks, as if out of those pre-Stonewall chestnuts Staircase, The Boys In The Band, and The Killing of Sister George.

And the play ultimately devolves into a four-person screaming match a la hetero-couple classics like Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and God of Carnage.

What's novel is the staging in the round, done under full-throttle overhead fluorescent lights, so the actors are next to you and lit up, as are the faces of the audience members across from you. You feel like you've been invited to a very awkward party--while also trying to look extra focused because half the audience is watching you along with the adjacent action.

The characters circle each other, and each scene--punctuated by a beep--becomes a sort of pas-de-deux slash boxing match for them, as well as a gladiator showdown and, naturally, a glorified cock fight.

John (Cory Michael Smith), the one who strays, is described as a pencil drawing that's not been filled in yet. He can imitate everyone's voice but often forgets his own. Got it? He's looking for his identity!

His affair with a woman seems to be a case of acting up more than a representation of serious bisexuality, and his older boyfriend (the entertaining Jason Butler Harner) is wounded, offended, and bitchy about it, especially as he confronts the woman (Amanda Quaid) and finds she's more complicated than he'd expected.

The gay couple's initial scenes crackle, but the rest becomes increasingly artificial, with too many breast beating declamations getting in the way of cheesecake being served.

Then it slows down for a supposedly profound finish that proved I really can't handle Cock.

And yet there's some tasty stuff about relationships being presented here under bright lighting and with much circling.

Feel free to grab on to Cock and submit to the sizzle.

But you'll probably have to go home and finish yourself off.


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