REVIEW: MTC Presents COCK

Disappointingly flaccid

By Ross Larkin

Cock by Mike Bartlett is essentially about an egocentric, painfully nervous and confused young man named John, who ‘must’ decide whether he is gay, straight or bisexual, and more importantly whether he will choose his male partner of seven years, or a new woman who has caught his attention. Staged in one small room on a floor of wall-to-wall cushions, this production is a dialogue-driven piece directed by MTC’s associate director, Leticia Caceres.

Cock

Primarily a three-hander between John (Tom Conroy) and his two love interests (who are never referred to by name, presumably to emphasise John’s self-absorbed world), Cock is perhaps so-called to describe John in nature, and not solely in reference to the play’s sexual explorations.

In fact, the character of John, who keeps his admirers (played by Angus Grant and Sophie Ross) dangling like puppets while he agonises over what he wants, who he is and who he will choose, is so excruciatingly frustrating and unlikeable that ‘who cares?’ might seem the more apt question.This subsequently begs the question of how plausible it is then that two intelligent, attractive and grounded people would loathe themselves so fully they allow such a dithering idiot to toy with their emotions so blatantly.

This is milked to the point of the three meeting for dinner to discuss (read, ‘bitch about’) who deserves John most, who is better suited and ultimately, who will win him over. All the while a bumbling mess, John has the audacity to believe he is worthy of such idolisation, and that the situation he has created is by no means ridiculous, unfair or narcissistic.

Yet, he also has no qualms about taking Cock’s 100-minute duration to decide as the story goes back and forth ad nauseam, with the all-too-occasional laugh, and the incredulous trivialisation of sexuality which is not only insulting to women, but also bisexuals. Thankfully, Sophie Ross’s portrayal of John’s female counterpart is understated, beautiful and perhaps the only likeable character, who might put you in mind of an Aussie Jennifer Lawrence. Likewise, talented songstress Missy Higgins has provided some beautifully haunting music played throughout the odd interlude: however it simply doesn’t belong.

Unfortunately Cock isn’t dark and beautiful: it’s irritating and shallow, bitchy and clichéd and the same point has never been drilled home more than it is with the disappointing Cock.

Cock is playing now at the Arts Centre, 100 St Kilda Road, Melbourne, until March 22, 2014 at 8pm with some 4pm Saturday matinees and a 6.30pm performance on Tuesday March 4. For more information or to book tickets go to www. artscentremelbourne.com.au/whats-on or phone 1300 182 1831300 182 1831300 182 1831300 182 183.

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