Review: ‘Cock’

Posted on 07 Feb 2014 at 8:15am

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John (Justin Locklear, pictured far right) can’t decide whether he’s in love with a man (called M — Blake Hackler) or a woman (W — Danielle Pickard) in Mike Bartlett’s modern comic romance Cock, and if it strikes you as odd that the two people in his life don’t have names, well, that’s kind of the conundrum of the play. Bartlett wants it to be about Big Themes, and thus John’s decision is reduced to a binary: Will he be gay or straight? With a man or a woman? Fish or fowl?

That set-up ignores the obvious third option that we all face: None of the above. We never quite understand what M and W see in John … nor he in either of them. John’s so indecicive, he comes off as a flake … and flakes are best left drowning in a bowl with milk.

That’s a flaw of the structure of the play, but not its impact, and certainly not its execution here, from director Alex Organ (ahem), kicking off Second Thought Theatre’s 10th season.

Organ takes a bare stage, adds light, pieces of chalk and the sound of a bell to create a minimalist style that approximates the no-holds-barred atmosphere of a boxing ring — the characters aren’t so much interacting as sparring with each other.

Each round ends in a draw, with Locklear a fidgetety bundle of energy a la Hugh Grant, Pickard and Hackler exchanging barbs with bitchy hilarity and also Robert Ousely, as M’s dad, giving an impassioned monologue decrying the idea that “gay is a choice.” (After that, it’s really difficult to like W even a little bit as she dives into Ann Coulter-ish nonsense about sexuality.)

Cock lives mostly inside the heads of its audiences, debating who John should go with. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. On a (Kinsey) scale of 0 to 6, it’s a 6 … or maybe 3 … or 0 … whatever fits your orientation.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

Bryant Hall on the Kalita Humphreys campus, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd. Through Feb. 22. 2TT.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 7, 2014.

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