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Boys Like Me: Cock - Review by Daniel Conway

There is an interesting thing that happens when you watch queer theatre, it tends to date itself quickly. When you watch Rent, you can’t help but think about how the presentation of Angel would be different if it were written today now that we have more universal language to describe the trans experience. This is also true of the play Cock. First performed in 2008, it has elements of plotting that I am not sure would be handled in the same way if it were produced today. The production by the team lead by Darrin Redgate have done a great job of using the performance to downplay these elements and focus on highlighting their considerable strength as a group.




 

 To be less vague, there are elements of the play that read as Bi erasure. The lines in isolation when the character John is asked to decide what he is at times are laboured, because the answer is clearly still queer. However, Redgate’s direction, alluded to in his directors’ note is to steer the performance away from “what are you”, to who are you. The play Cock is, at its core a play about one man’s indecision and how that ties to his identity. That is a constant that will never age badly and is a story told deftly by all involved.

 




Cock is a true character piece. As per the instructions by the composer, the stage is bare except part of an MMA octagon. Redgate and his set and lighting designer Casey Moon-Watton establishes the tone of the verbal sparring with this set that is visually striking and minimalist all at the same time. The lighting is used expertly to control mood, highlight performers, create a sense of intimacy and isolation. Very often you will see theatre that relies on set to tell a story, but Redgate and his team have been challenged by the script to focus on the bread and butter of theatre and in this they have risen to the occasion. As I said this show is a character piece and is nothing without the stunning cast. This script is wordy, it is quick and funny and so much is not said. There is only one properly named character, the central John (played by Stephen Schofield). Schofield does a wonderful job of being gormless. It is a role that I can imagine being frustrating in a lesser actors’ hands. John’s narrative is a frustrating one, being indecisive but likable and acting out moments that could easily be cringe, Schofield is the centre of this play and handles it very well. The first of John’s partners, labelled M by the script, is played by Andrew Lindqvist. Lindqvist is truly hilarious and commanding. Exceptionally good at bouncing off his co-stars and, like Schofield, plays a role that could easily be annoying and not endearing. M is a snob and catty and if you play a role like that without bring a performance that is grounded in a well-rounded humanity, the nuance is lost. This is not the case with the performance given by Lindqvist. The second partner, labelled in the script as W, is played by Grace Stamnas. There is a strength and grace in the choices made by Stamnas. W is a disruptor in the narrative, she is passionate and assured in herself. I found Stamnas incredibly likable in this role and her interactions with Richard Cotter’s F. Cotter brings such a good dad energy to the play. He is stern and loving and provides a great balance of energy to the stage. You really got the sense that the play was complete in the third segment with his inclusion.




 

Cock is a very funny play, in the hands of great performers with strong stage craft. I encourage people to make their way to Flight Path theatre to see it. I recommend the play Cock to anyone whose dad thinks a cheesecake will sway things in your favour.

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