Written by 6:57 am Review, The Larking House Theatre Company, Theater, Uncategorized

The Larking House Presents Cock @ Chance Theater – Review

pc: Tony Sanchez

Written by Daniella Litvak

Cock – it’s a one-word title, but it tells you a lot about the play up front.   It features mature themes and language.   The attitude is wry and irreverent.

Set in England, the story kicks off with John (Ramon Suzara) leaving his long-time boyfriend, M (Matt Caballero). John has identified as gay but finds himself attracted to and getting involved with a woman, W (Adriana Rodriguez Burciaga). Confused, John returns to M but can’t let go of W. The love triangle climaxes over a dinner where John must decide to stay with M or be with W.

The material is provocative and subverts expectations. Playwright Mike Bartlett doesn’t provide easy answers, and the complexity is appreciated.   He also experiments with style and structure. Some of these experiments are inspired. For instance, an intimate scene between John and W was a highlight.   The credit also belongs to Director Lizzy McCabe and the actors for executing it.

However, some of the playwright’s other style experiments, such as jumping around in time, aren’t successful. It would have been better if the story had been told linearly. Also, I’m ambivalent about using letters instead of names for characters, except for John. I see the point, but it comes off as gimmicky.

John is fascinating as a character you want to analyze, but he is hard to like. It’s clever that John isn’t written as having the typical loveable and charming personality, but it also makes it hard to see why M and W are willing to put up with him. Even when John is called selfish, Cock wants you to take his side.

Meanwhile, M gets the villain edit. The play doesn’t make him cartoonishly evil. The points John raises about M’s behavior are valid. However, M doesn’t deserve how John treats him, especially after John begs and manipulates M into taking him back. W doesn’t deserve John’s treatment, but the narrative makes her more sympathetic.

The cast is strong across the board. M, W, and F (M’s father and played by Kelly Franett) have outgoing, vivacious personalities, and Caballero, Rodriguez Burciaga, and Franett do a good job of conveying it. The feathers fly when they are all on stage together.

John Suzara has the most challenging role. John is introverted and withdrawn. It’s not an easy personality type to execute on stage or screen. It makes thematic sense to surround John with big personalities, but your attention tends to be drawn towards the other characters. Still, Suzara does good work in the role — impressively making silence a powerful statement.

The Director’s Note mentions the stage directions specifying to keep things minimal so the focus remains on the drama, and this production keeps to that. Some of the action takes place in the (presumably London) underground. The lighting and sound effects splendidly capture the claustrophobic and unnerving feelings of being there.

Review
7.6 Overall
0 Users (0 votes)
Story7.5
Acting8
Set & Design8
Costumes7
Entertainment7.5
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Above Average! September 22 – October 1, 2023.

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