ArtsReviewTheatre

Artists’ Collective Theatre examines the complexity of relationships and sexual orientation in Cock

The latest postcard review by Caroline Russell-King is Cock, the new production by ACT Theatre.

Show: Cock.

Playwright(s): Mike Barlett.

Theatre  – Artists’ Collective Theatre (ACT) at Motel Theatre, Arts Commons.

Length: One act (One hour and 40 minutes, no intermission).

Genre(s): Drama.

Premise: A man struggles with confusion, indecision and inertia when dealing with his boyfriend/partner of seven years and a woman he recently slept with.

Why this play? Why now?: Amanda Cutting AD, says, “The social hypocrisy of this is one of the many reasons why ACT wanted to examine this in a public setting.”

Curiosity: Not just for this show, but I wonder when bios will ultimately go back to talking about people’s show- and design-history as opposed to their race and identity. I also wonder how theatre artists and intimacy directors can make safe spaces without sacrificing the art.

Notable line: “…What I sleep with is more important than who I sleep with?”

Notable writing: The writing gets self-conscious around the time the character seems to ask himself, “Has this just changed genres,” and seemed to respond to the audience’s thoughts about the character’s having “First World problems.” This British script has been modified for Calgary (hopefully with permission) and may have lost a few points in translation.

Notable performances: These characters are deeply flawed humans and mostly unsympathetic, but Andrew Cormier finds a way to make our hearts ache for him.

Notable design: The mylar covered floor throws shadows on to the legs of the characters; so with the lighting design it looks as if they are wading in water. The costume choices steal focus and are as confusing as the mind of the protagonist.

Notable direction: This is the directing debut of Conrad Belau who uses the time-tested economy and balance in the “four characters, four chairs” presentation style in alley setting. The unbalance comes when the men use their crotches in the sexual scenes but the woman uses her hand to represent her genitals. Darcy Evans is listed as the Director Mentor and with all that he has on his plate it’s generous of him to give his time in this way.

One reason to see this show: If you want to explore ambivalence in love and human nature, Cock is the show for you.

(Photo courtesy ACT Theatre.)

Cock runs until March 30 at Motel Theatre, Arts Commons.

Caroline Russell-King is a playwright, dramaturg, and instructor. She is a member of The Playwrights Guild of Canada, the Dramatist Guild of America and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. You can find her work here www.carolinerussellking.com.

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