2340 Lee Road
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Mike Bartlett’s New Play
Through November 23, 2013
It is what one does to the hammer of a pistol. It is another name for a rooster. It is a domineering person. It is a device used in regulating the flow of liquids or gasses. It is slang for the word penis. It is also the name of the play currently on stage at Dobama Theatre through November 23. It is “Cock”.
What makes this play so fascinating (other than the irreverent title) is what it does not have. The stage (which is surrounded on all sides by the audience) is bare. At each of the four corners sits a chair with a water bottle next to it where the various antagonists sit. The only other prop is a piece of chalk used to set boundaries in the center of the stage which eventually ends up as a large X within a square.
Yet…and this is what makes it so very cool…the actors weave a tale where you can see the details of the flat (apartment) and the interior of the bus and the outdoor patio yet they never sit or lie down. Clothing is removed until the person is naked yet not one stitch of clothing hits the floor. It is theater broken down to its most essential elements. That is, the actors acting a brilliant script and following top notch directing.
It is a story of control and of trying to achieve one’s agenda no matter what the price to anyone. John (Andrew Gombas) is a likable, easy, happy go lucky guy who is gay and lives with his significant other in a well appointed flat in London. M (Drew Kopas) is his partner whose controlling nature is for all intensive purposes an act of desperation. John has a falling out with M and decides to separate from him for awhile. It is during this separation that John meets W (Lara Knox) who he realizes is the “one true love of his life”. W also has an agenda. She is searching for security in a relationship and will go to any means to find it even if it means falling in love with a gay man. F (Bob Keefe) is M’s father who also has his agenda. That is to insure that his son is happy for the rest of his life even after F passes away eventually. What we have here is essentially a lover’s triangle with a gay twist and a British accent.
In a word it is superb. It takes a tremendous amount of courage for an actor to come on stage with just the clothes on his back and to seamlessly infer to his surroundings so that you can see what he sees.
The climax of the play happens at an intimate dinner party in which M, F and W are all gathered to try to win over John to their particular side. M’s arrogant stock broker side takes hold and he is able to assert who rules the roost. W pleads and badgers in order to get John’s attention and F acts like he is the voice of reason but his intentions are quite clear. Then there is John whose forte seems to be his non-ability to make decisions about anything. His inability to decide is the crux of the entire play while the wolves circle, with each wanting their piece of him.
Prude Alert: There is some language (in particular the F word) but when done in a British accent it does not seem nearly as bad. There are frank discussions about sex (both gay and straight) and a fully clothed standing sex scene between John and W that is enough to make anyone blush. If this offends you stay home.
Shooting From The Lip (My Last Words): Dobama Theatre’s production of “Cock” is top notch. It is the pure science of acting distilled down to its essence. This is the play that you wait to appear during the season. It is here. Go see it.
Tickets are $26 regular, $24 senior for Fridays and Saturdays, $21 regular, $19 senior for Thursdays and Sundays. Student tickets are $10 (full-time, under 25 with a valid ID)
Tickets are available by calling the Dobama box office at (216) 932-3396, or by visiting www.dobama.org.
*Note: the final weekend of this production will be produced in partnership with and performed at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (MOCA). The performance on Friday, November 22nd will be a special Benefit Performance for Equality Ohio. All tickets for the final weekend at MOCA will be $30.