Review: Cock at Artsite – “brilliantly thought-provoking”

0
265
Jamie Carter as John in Darkroom Theatre Company's 'Cock'

I think one of the worst things you can do is be alone with your thoughts, asking yourself “Have I made the right choice? How different would my life be if I chose a different path? Have I now in fact ruined my life?”

I myself, like many others I’m sure, have fallen victim to such anxieties and last night they played out centre stage through Darkroom Theatre Company’s (DTC) version of Mike Barlett’s 2009 play ‘Cock’.

Exploring the complexities of modern day relationships, Cock is an emotional game of Tetris played by John. Fresh out of a seven-year gay relationship with M, John – played by a frantically composed Jamie Carter – has sex for the first time with a woman, W, who may just actually be the one for him. Is he gay? Is he straight? Can he both? Can he be… just John?

As a seemingly good idea at the time, the love triangle confront the issue by ‘talking’ over an awkward dinner – shortly followed by “the ultimate bitch fight” between W (Daniella Faircloth) and M (Olly Webb) as a last attempt to have John all to themselves. To make the battle even, so say, M also invites his father (Kevin Bray) to the conflict.

Entwined with social constructs, sexual fluidity, generational clashes and a crushing identity crisis, Cock is full of dark punches, witty sass and extremely raw realisations.

Daniella Faircloth (W), Jamie Carter (John) and Olly Webb (M)

Director Emily-Jane Sheppard has out-done herself in the way in which she stationed the audience to endure questions no one wants to answer. Sat in a horse shoe formation, no one member of the audience was sitting at the same angle, from the same perspective. Perhaps that was the point, given the multifaceted emotional elements embedded within the play’s narrative. From the white coated props and simplistic scene changes Sheppard’s layout is, quite frankly, the best way I have seen the space of Artsite utilised for theatre.

Accompanied by Grassland’s etchy but intense soundtrack, the scene changes were – like the dialogue – sharp, denoting the high stakes in the game that is life.

By the end I was left empathetic, almost to each argument – particularly John’s. What is the right answer? Can or should we be confined to labels? Carter’s jittery portrayal does well to depict John’s turmoil of trying to understand himself, which is greatly accompanied by Olly Webb and Daniella Faircloth – the antagonists to John’s identity crisis. Webb does well as the possessive, strong-headed M, to then collapse and reveal his fragility through explosive outbursts. His brutal yet humorous repartee with F amplifies Faircloth’s performance to negate both a feisty and gentle woman. A short, but definitely not sweet, performance was also brought in by Kevin Bray as M’s father F. Representing the older generation, Bray brought a humble ignorance to the table as a loving father.

Daniella Faircloth (W) and Jamie Carter (John)

DTC’s take on Cock offers a brilliantly thought-provoking and honest insight into the complexities of sexuality, identity and the gambles in life. Will we ever know what we want? The play certainly doesn’t have the answers, but the cast give a very human performance whilst trying to figure it out.

The second, and last, performance of Cock is being performed this evening (3 Aug) at Artsite, Theatre Square, Swindon.

For further information and tickets visit www.citizenticket.co.uk/event/cock-by-mike-bartlett/

LEAVE A REPLY