Cock is a riveting minimalist drama

Cock was fast, intense, and impressive. Put simply, this play was breathtaking. Stephen Drover directs Rumble Theatre’s newest performance on Granville Island, presenting a series of hard-hitting questions and relaying issues with Western ideals.

Written by Mike Bartlett, Cock showcases a steady long-term relationship between two men that quickly takes a left turn when they hit a rough patch, during which time the protagonist, John, falls in love with a woman. Nearly half of the 90-minute play focuses around a dinner attended by John, the man he loves, the woman he loves, and a surprising guest.

I can imagine you’re already booking tickets for the play the day after your last midterm. But what if I was to tell you that’s not even the best part? It’s hard to name just one, but one of the most interesting and important parts of the play was the lack of anything and everything not human: there was nothing more than eight sets of staggered seats surrounding a small platform. Drover didn’t use a single prop, a single drop of music — nothing. Distractions, he calls them.

Although the play portrays man vs. man conflict threefold, the real battle Cock embodied was man vs. self. John, the illustrious protagonist, is not remembered for his humour or his quirks, like his boyfriend. He is not known for the boldness and self-assuredness that his girlfriend embodies. No, John embodies each and every single person who has ever questioned who and what they are.

The need to know where we fit in this world is not merely scary, but destructive. Throughout the play, John sees himself only through the lenses of those with whom he interacts — never through his own. Cock speaks to the differences between the known, the common, and the habituated versus what we legitimately want in life. Through varied perspectives, such as biology and politics, Cock discusses the problems with self-actualization and how heavily involved society is in this personal phenomenon.

Despite tackling these tough topics, Drover never fails to make us laugh; he seamlessly integrates elements of humour into each and every act. The play is also wonderfully honest. Whenever an awkward moment occurred or whenever there was an opportune moment for a sarcastic remark, they were realized perfectly. Drover added an aspect of reality to his show that often gets misplaced in performances. This was appreciated by the audience, who were engaged throughout.

Drover has a masterpiece on his hands. The cherries on top were the actors: Nadeem Phillip, Shawn Macdonald, Donna Soares, and Duncan Fraser shared chemistry that was impossible to miss. The ways in which they drove me to the edge of my seat in pure angst of what was going to happen next was more than brilliant. All four shared an extreme chemistry that really made me believe that love isn’t the only thing you should be fighting for. You should fight for you.

Cock is presented by Rumble Theatre October 29 to November 8. For more information, visit rumble.org.

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