Cock: Preview

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This week sees Mike Bartlett’s Cock brought to the Union stage by Saints LGBT+ and Wanton Theatre to delight and divide audiences across the board. The subject matter: John, who, on a hiatus from his long-term boyfriend, meets the girl of his dreams entirely by chance. In the same way that the work’s risqué title may alienate as many people as it attracts; the protagonist experiences a neurotic whirlwind of guilt and doubt ensnaring actor and audience alike. Considering the discussions stimulated by Queer Fest, this particularly relevant production will be brought to St Andreans on the 17th and 18th of this month (February). I sat down with dramaturg (crew who does research and guides the cast and crew’s engagement with the play as a literary object), Ryan Hay, who shed light on the thematic and theatrical significance brought by the production.

MCK: Can you tell me about your motivations behind bringing Cock to the stage?

RH: Well, at its heart the play explores sexuality labels and what happens when they are deconstructed.

MCK: I think that’s a subject many could find ourselves relating to. Can you tell me about any theatrical influences you had in the run-up to settling on Bartlett’s play?

RH: (Inhales sharply) Ooh! That’s a tough question. I’d say I just have interests really. There’s no one person who influenced me particularly in this case, I was drawn to Bartlett’s play because he tackles big difficult questions whilst still making them entertaining. I think sometimes theatre can lose sight of one of its most fundamental aims: entertainment.

MCK: On the matter of entertainment, sexuality is obviously a very important issue both within the context of the play and in general. Will John’s bisexuality be the focal point of the play or will it be a detail from which more important narrative themes stem?

RH: The play is, in essence, an affair drama. John’s relationship with people of both genders respectively shapes him as a person in two very different ways. He finds himself in a position where he must choose between the two. I guess that makes his bisexuality one of many important issues in the play.

MCK: What do you think we the audience can expect to gain from the play?

RH: The play is certainly comedic, somewhat farcical at times, so expect a lot of laughs. But we’re also going to be dividing assumptions from sexuality labels. Since the play gives people so much food for thought, we’re going to be holding some post-show talks which you can stick around for or not, whatever you like!

MCK: That sounds like it could be really useful! Yes, it certainly could be a lot for an audience to make sense of on their own.

RH: Basically, individuals from LGBT+ will help unpick how the ideas of the play manifest themselves in day-to-day life and we’ll be taking any questions audience members may have on the matter.

MCK: Brilliant, I really look forward to that. Okay, time to be fairly unprofessional – any juicy gossip?

RH: Well apart from inevitable creative clashes, I can tell you that two of our lead actors have been pulled out of theatrical retirement and shoehorned into making this their “last hurrah” before graduation […] the subject matter is something which touches a lot of lives and the play will be a bit of a star vehicle – it’s a real challenge for an actor to play this one right.

MCK: Thank you so much for talking to me Ryan, I look forward to seeing it for myself!

Cock will be on at the Union Stage on the 17th and 18th of February. There will be around 75 seats, so come early to avoid disappointment! Be sure to follow the event page on Facebook for updates: https://www.facebook.com/events/1436735449958268/

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