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COCK

Jan 16, 2015 - Jan 25, 2015

$12.50 - $30.00

By Mike Bartlett / Iowa Premiere 

DATES: January 16th -25th, 2015
TIMES: Wed – Sat at 7:30 p.m., Sun at 2 p.m.
TICKETS: Midwestix or 515-309-0251
SUNDAY TALK-BACK: January 18th, 2015 3:30pm or Immediately following the production
RADICAL HOSPITALITY: Thanks to a grant from Prairie Meadows there are tickets available at no cost for each performance excluding Saturdays.  When you go to the ticketing page at Midwestix choose the Radical Hospitality ticket type, limit of two per person and a limited number available for each performance.

 

John has been in a stable relationship with his boyfriend for a number of years. But when he takes a break, he accidentally falls in love with a woman. Torn between the two, filled with guilt and conflicting emotions, he doesn’t know which way to turn. His boyfriend is willing to wait for him to make a decision, but so is his girlfriend. And both are prepared to fight to keep him. As the pressure mounts, a dinner with both parties is arranged, and everyone wants to know. Who is John? What is he? And what will his decision be? A comic discussion of identity and sexuality, the play is performed with no props or set, so the focus is all on the drama of the situation.

Cast:

*Member Actors Equity Association

Production Team:

  • Director Todd Buchacker
  • Stage Manager – Kevin Higdon
  • Asst.  Director/Asst. Stage Manager – Tom Mann
  • Production Stage Manager – Shelby Burgus
  • Set Design – Tim Wisgerhof
  • Lighting Design – Jim Trenberth
  • Costumes Design – Sarah Jablon
  • Sound Design – Josh Jepson
  • Hair and Makeup Design – Cindy Hummel
  • Dialect Coach – Ann Woldt
  • Master Carpenter – Paul Mostrom
  • Dramaturge – Nancy Evans

Production Photos for COCK Here

Reviews:

Get past its title – excellent performances across the board propel ‘Cock’

A theatre review by John Busbee / The Culture Buzz / January 18, 2015

Please don’t let “Cock shock” keep you from experiencing this superbly acted StageWest Theatre Company production. In the playwright’s native land, England, cock is a friendly form of address, used especially by a man talking to another man. America seems to have taken its usage to lower levels, unless one is talking about his prized barnyard fowl. Regardless, this show transports Central Iowa audiences to StageWest’s defining roots: cutting edge, an Iowa premier and exceptionally well written. It also demonstrates how StageWest achieved its leadership role in high production values for its special brand of theatrical productions.

Upon entering the Kum & Go Theater, everyone is immediately plunged into a carefully crafted environment, thanks to the scenic artistry of Tim Wisgerhof. With three murals of majestic roosters anchoring the other corners of the space, the dynamic cubes, steps and platform create a malleable landscape upon which the actors perform. With green dominating the color scheme – envy foreshadowing? – this abstract painting of the set provides a fluid, interpretational space for the action to unfold. This environment, coupled with Josh Jepson’s invasive sound design, captures the audience before the first line. Add seating on all four sides, only three rows deep, and an intimate, almost unwilling participation, interaction with the audience is inevitable. And, immensely rewarding for those willing to savor such theatrical experiences.

Wisgerhof and the rest of the production team work marvelously with director Todd Buchacker. This arguably is Buchacker’s strongest work as a director, adding to his already fine resume. Casting a show like Cock is like preparing a superb dish; it takes the proper blend of ingredients to make the whole excel. His four-star cast features Jordan Jepson as John, Jason Bohon as M, Angel Stettler as W, and Maxwell Schaeffer as F. This is one of the best ensembles assembled in recent memory. Add visionary direction from Buchacker and strong production values from Wisgerhof, Jim Trenberth (lighting), Josh Jepson (sound), Sara Jablon (costumes) and the rest of the team, and the live performing arts experience delivers with heart, soul, humor and a mesmerizing, ever-encroaching sense of inevitability in its story. The spatial design coupled with the story arc inexorably draws the audience into unmistakable feeling of witnessing a cockfight unfolding.

Cock tells the story of a gay couple who, during a brief break-up, one of the partners, John, falls in love with a woman. Taking the timeless love triangle theme and adding a modern edge to it, playwright Mike Bartlett delivers a series of cerebral punches, tickles and twists. With a penchant for sharp dialogue and situational interplay, Bartlett gives his characters time to punch and counterpunch through a staccato-paced, no-intermission whirlwind of relationship dynamics.

Cock blasts out of the gate in a series of scenes, briefly separated by quick blackouts, between John and his partner, M. Their dodge-parry-thrust relationship seems to end; John is drawn into an unexpected heterosexual relationship with a woman he has seen on a daily basis (their routes to work cross), forcing John’s true ambiguity to grow. John returns to M, in whose flat he has been living, confesses his new love, which spins into planning a dinner meeting between all three. John doesn’t learn until that fateful night that M has invited his father to join the fray. After all, John had described his female lover as “manly,” and M didn’t want to be at a disadvantage.

Jepson’s John is richly layered, bouncing from childish to petulant to smitten with the unshackled ease of someone whose base problem is an inability to make a commitment, any commitment. As M, Bohon deftly embraces his role, pleading, commanding and often piercing John’s protective shields with laser-efficient results. Providing the final side of the love triangle, Stettler’s W brings a robust, confident energy to her role, adding boldness and a smoldering seductivity to a well-honed arsenal of interpersonal tools. Ratcheting up the energy, dynamics and tension to higher levels when he enters the final dinner scene, veteran actor Schaeffer takes the action to even more enticing complexities. Each has his or her moments of dominance; each shows his or her flaws, which are liberally exploited by the others. Bartlett’s representational dialogue, rather than using reality in some explicit scenes, heightens the experience. Dialect coach Ann Woldt did a fine job helping this talented quartet nail down their British dialects, an important element for the scattering of English references in the script. This also provides a more honest journey into Bartlett’s tale as John wallows in his own indecisiveness, expecting a guarantee from life, while being pulled multiple directions by M and W, both who think they have the power and influence to mold John into their ideal image of him. John is resolute in his obstinance, however, leaving the ending of this play with questions the audience will have to answer.

This production of Cock lets all who wisely get tickets for the show to understand how it won the coveted Laurence Olivier Award. Some will see this as a story about manipulation, others about the most frustratingly noncommittal person ever imagined. Everyone will see traits of people they know in these four characters, and such masterfully delivered honesty about humanity is always a rewarding experience. Only one weekend left to catch Cock. Grab the opportunity.

StageWest’s play isn’t about roosters

Theatre Review by Michael Morain, Des Moines Register / January 19, 2015

When theater critics for the New York Times and Los Angeles Times reviewed earlier productions of Mike Bartlett’s funny, feisty new play, neither paper chose to publish its actual title. They called it “The Cockfight Play” instead.

But here in plainspoken Iowa, let’s just use its real name — “Cock” — and be done with it, OK? Cockapoo. Cockamamie. Cock-a-doodle-doo.

And while we’re at it, let me beat you to the obvious joke: It’s about 90 minutes long, without an intermission.

So. Moving on. The StageWest show at the Des Moines Social Club is much smarter than its gimmicky title suggests. It’s a little raw and little racy, but more than that, it’s quick, thanks in part to director Todd Buchacker’s choice to keep the four-member cast circling one another like roosters in a pen (or, come to think of it, the 3X wrestlers who often pummel each other in the same theater).

The actors go at it in a minimal, in-the-round arena designed by Tim Wisgerhof, whose gorgeous painted portraits of roosters perch above three of the room’s four corners. Their beady eyes stare down on the fracas below.

This particular fracas is a territorial one, in which a man named John (Jordan Jepson) falls for a woman named W (Angela Stettler) and surprises himself by taking her, quite successfully, to bed. He then tries to analyze his sudden new fling with help from a man named M (Jason Bohon), who happens to be John’s longtime boyfriend.

“I need some straightening out,” John says, prompting a withering look from M.

It’s worth noting that the play premiered in 2009, and the characters subscribe to the prevailing theory that sexual orientation is a genetic characteristic rather than a choice. John was born with conflicting desires, whether he likes them or not.

But how he chooses to pursue them, well, that’s where things get interesting. How should he dress? How should he walk or talk? With whom should he spend his time? Why does he want to live with M but make love to W? In other words, how does his sexuality define his sense of self?

Who is he?

“Some people might think you were scrawny,” W tells him, “but I think you’re like a picture drawn with a pencil. I like it. You haven’t been colored in.”

Jepson is a fine actor, and his character’s indecision is at times so paralyzing that you have to feel for the guy. He’s such a “wet fish,” as M calls him, that sometimes you wonder what the others see in him.

And sometimes you don’t wonder at all. Even though they’re fully clothed and standing a dozen feet apart, John and W’s first amorous exchange is the most convincing sex scene I’ve seen on a local stage since the actress made similar noises in “In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play),” which StageWest produced a few years ago.

Stettler is an unusually intelligent performer — sharp, nimble, vulnerable — and Bohon makes a worthy sparring partner. Both are tender with John but tough with each other, pecking and clawing and scraping to the end, during the world’s most awkward dinner party. M’s father, called simply F (the excellent Maxwell Schaeffer), tries to keep the peace but fails.

Without giving anything away, the story ends the only way it can, with John caught in the middle. His decision to present himself as a straight or gay man, according to society’s expectations, muddies the more basic dilemma of choosing between two people. It’s unclear if anyone wins.

Des Moines Register Theatre Review

Culture Buzz Review

Details

Start:
Jan 16, 2015
End:
Jan 25, 2015
Cost:
$12.50 - $30.00
Event Category:

Venue

Kum & Go Theater at the Des Moines Social Club
9th and Cherry St
Des Moines, IA 50309 United States
+ Google Map
Phone:
515-309-0251
Website:
http://stagewestiowa.com/