Cock | 15 Minutes from Anywhere

Cock | 15 Minutes from AnywhereLeft – Shaun Goss and Matthew Connell. Photo – Madeline Bannenberg

Mike Bartlett’s own notes in the forward of his text suggest that the audience should be raked down toward the actors, that there be no scenery, no props, no furniture and that the focus instead should be entirely on the drama. It’s evident that Director Beng Oh read these notes, then took a magnifying glass, passed the brightest of lights through it and torched his actors below like tinder.

Uncomfortable accelerated viewing.

John and his long-term male partner power toward separation in a series of fiery exchanges. Leaps in time and toxicity are punctuated like a boxing match leading ultimately to the most unexpected of revelations; John has met and begun an emotional and sexual relationship with a woman.

A graphic smacking exploration of sexuality and attraction and the morphing nature of relationships and happiness, all perspectives are there for suturing as our advocacy for each player waivers.

This production is tightly in the round mounting the audience like a baying mob in a two-up ring with loaded coins. Clipped, rapid, smart, rhythmic and blunt – these words are damage and the silence between them slashing. With the writer’s instruction followed, the thrust of focus is absolutely and firmly on performance and performance we get.

Matthew Connell as John superbly explores the plays greatest conundrum – what exactly is his appeal? How has this wet, indecisive, spineless creation found himself central in a fight for affection from others – Cock? Maybe. Balls? None. His response, when questioned; an insipid reference to his eyes, his sole alluring quality. The only named character in the play, John isn’t unlikeable per se, but sufficiently one dimensional enough to provide the bland contrast for his more interesting hopeful suitors. John is a wordy rollercoaster of dialogue and here it’s handled and articulated with immense skill and flawless timing.

Marrissa O’Reilly is astonishing as ‘W’. Rising powerfully above and beyond much of the uncomfortable misogyny directed at her character. The questions and choices for her as an actor feel almost painful but she has perfectly grasped a woman, defending women, convincing a man; a gay man, of her sexual potential and worth. A strong open connected performance rich in vulnerability and emotional fatigue.

Scott Gooding as ‘F’ has a somewhat lengthy dressing room wait to make his appearance as the evenings most unexpected and possibly unwelcome guest. Not knowing of this character in advance genuinely added to the tension in anticipation of his arrival so no spoilers here. The seeming tolerance of this character is juxtaposed with some rather scathing dialogue directed again, at the only woman on stage. A solid delivery bringing forward an interesting, biased, but semi external perspective.

Confronted by sexuality in flux and finding himself fighting for faith in the relationship he finds himself fighting for; Shaun Goss is simply mesmerising as ‘M’. The complexities of this role are enormous and seeing a performance of this calibre in unforgivingly close proximity is troubling, peerless and exhilarating. The journey and dialogue afforded this character means the margins for excess and error are microscopic. In even slightly less capable hands, this role could descend into farcical indulgence but with control and delivery mastered at this level – it never does.

I offer huge congratulations to the production team and to this group of very fine performers. These actors need to be relentlessly ‘on’ exposed as they are and bathed in our judgement, but adding immensely to the stakes of the evening, is our own vulnerability because our responses to this action are so visible sitting in an open space unmasked by conventional fourth wall proscenium and darkness.

This is challenging enjoyable thrill ride theatre – go!

 

15 Minutes from Anywhere presents
Cock
by Mike Bartlett

Director Beng Oh

Venue: fortyfivedownstairs | 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne VIC
Dates: 30 January – 10 February 2019
Tickets: $24 – $35
Bookings: www.fortyfivedownstairs.com

 

 

Related Articles

Garry Starr Conquers Troy Garry Starr Conquers Troy
What do you do when you’ve performed everything? Why you conquer Troy of course! What do you do when you’ve performed everything? Whimsical entertainer Garry Starr (aka Damian Warren-Smith) is...
Eurowision | Carousel Pony Productions Eurowision | Carousel Pony Productions
Australia has such a peculiar obsession with the daggy European song contest that it’s ripe for a parody, and in Eurowision the writers have hit the perfect sweet spot between an affection emulation...

Most read Melbourne reviews

www.murielsweddingthemusical.com

This is an outstanding production on every level, which far exceeds any other musical adaptation...


West Side Story

In any field there are the standards, the yardstick by which all others in that arena are...


Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999 | James Acaster

You may have seen him on Netflix with his quirky style and very well crafted material. If you...


Not Quite White | Vanessa Steinberg

Steinberg opens with a long, graphic diatribe about dating as a 53-year-old serial divorcee with...


Go Solo | Paul McDermott and Gatesy

If you’re a fan of a particular muso or comic, you’ve probably wondered what they’re like at...


Sign up for our newsletter

* indicates required