Rumble Theatre
Cock by Mike Bartlett

Dates and Venue October 29 – November 8, 2015 @ 8pm (Sat & Sun Matinees @ 2pm & Wed Nov. 4 matinee @ 1pm ) | Performance Works, 1218 Cartwright Street, Granville Island

Director Stephen Drover Composer/Sound Design John Mills-Cockell Costume Design Catherine E. Carr Lighting Design Jill White Production Design Shizuka Kai Technical Director Conor Moore Audio Mishelle Cuttler

Reviewer Christian Steckler

With the prospect of no sets or props, and only minimal use of lighting and sound in this production of Cock, the audience is left to wonder how a theatrical production can be directed and staged with any memorable effect. Never fear, however. Cock delivers big time!

Director Stephen Drover moves his actors over and around his blank canvas to create a strikingly powerful, thought-provoking evening of theatre, focused on character, self exploration, and emotional risk. The writing stands out. The dialogue is so sharp, so natural, and so focused that we have no trouble being immersed in the experiences of the characters.

Here, the acting stands out. Nadeem Phillip masters every nuance of voice, face and body language in his portrayal of John, a man struggling to determine his sexual orientation which is somewhere beyond the usual gay/straight dichotomy. His sometimes bitchy gay partner, superbly played by Shawn Macdonald is unaware of his own insecurities and the role they play in driving his lover ever deeper into the introspection that is destroying their relationship. Donna Soares shines as the woman who makes John feel wholly and confidently himself. Duncan Fraser plays John’s lover’s dad in a subtle performance with the perfect degree of understatement necessary to spread the dramatic tension when it is needed, without diminishing it.

The quality of the acting by all performers in this production is outstanding. Phillip shows us a man who is acutely aware of his imperfections, courageously honest with himself and those important to him, and frustrated by his inability to make the limited choices being forced upon him in choosing a life partner. Macdonald masterfully portrays a lover who gradually recognizes that his shallow, controlling involvement in his relationship is neither sufficient to keep his lover, nor reflective of the true, pure and honest love he, himself, is capable of. Soares is authentic as a guardedly sensitive woman whom fate has brought together with John. She is honest, perceptive, tough and real in her efforts to show John what love can be. Fraser’s talent in his part at the climax of the play effectively complicates the struggle being played out between the two competing lovers, and within John.

This is a powerful, engaging, indeed riveting play. The audience is immersed from the opening lines to the end. It will make you think beyond bounds that you are used to. See it. The ending is waiting for your reaction.

© 2015 Christian Steckler