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FringeReview Scotland 2016

Cock

Tron Theatre Company

Genre: Drama, LBGT Theatre, Mainstream Theatre, Theatre

Venue: Tron Theatre

Festival:


Low Down

Boy meets girl, boy is already in a relationship with another boy, other boy, and girl wants boy to make his mind up. Other boy’s father comes to tea.

Review

This is a paring back of a modern dilemma where John comes home to M to confess that he has had a fling with a woman. M is scandalised and the relationship between them having already broken down M appears confused as to why John should now be seeking his counsel. We return to see how the encounter occurred and then follow into the bedroom until we return to where John and M continue their awkward discussions. Eventually a meeting between all three is arranged and for moral support M asks his father along which leads to a choice being made by John that inevitably appears to please nobody but at least brings closure to the issue… for now.

This is a modern day dilemma where the bisexuality or homosexuality of one character is conflicted by curiosity. The potential for carnage is obvious but drawn out over the 1 hour 25 minutes of an interesting conflict we witness the subtle devastation prevarication can cause. I found myself, at times, wondering if it was not over long in its exposition, the story mirroring John‘s frustrating lack of a decision.

The performances from James Anthony Pearson, Johnny McKnight, Isobel McArthur and Vincent Friell were what kept me hanging on in there. I began by being irritated that someone as insipid as John could screw up one relationship never mind be fought over by two people. That neither M (McKnight) nor W (McArthur) were particularly attractive as well rounded and completely confident human beings as you could fall for, helped him out. I wondered at times if it was the acting or direction which had made them less appealing but settled on the script. The danger of having someone as able and delicious in dripping lines off the page and onto the stage as Johnny McKnight is that once he has got you in his flow his absence feels longer. His M was able to combine sarcasm and danger in equal measure, making sure you would never invite him along if you were contemplating buying a hutch.

Pearson’s John was simply infuriating and his manipulation of both M and W so underhand and well observed that all we needed was someone’s father to step in and skelp him. We got a macho F in the form of Friell who gave us a new dimension – macho man saving his gay son – and this again was well observed. Isobel McArthur’s W was cast as the villain but managed to convince us of her innocence, even when she was able to corrupt John, putting in the type of performance that augurs well for her and our futures.

The direction was great. The fact that Andy Arnold pushes into the contemplation of the dilemma by refusing to have shouting, and the messy sex scenes but instead allow the words to guide us through the piece is bold. The movement was something I really liked too and it gave a physicality to the storyline which worked well.

Technically this was all about the action – or non action – and lighting and music played its part. With costume being an appropriate set of modern day attire this was competently handled as you would expect from the Tron Company.

Overall the performances and the direction held it together for me. The context of the piece was fascinating but I felt that, aside from some sparkling set pieces and dialogue that whipped from Mr McKnight’s tongue it could have done with a judicious edit.

Published