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  • Writer's picturePaul Burston

Some thoughts about Cock




The cast are great – not just Taron Egerton and Jonathan Bailey, but also Jade Anouka and Phil Daniels. Though I confess that during one of Phil’s longer speeches I had the sudden urge to shout “park life!” (You’ll know it when you hear it.)


It’s entertaining, thought provoking and incredibly kinetic. The use of highly stylised movement and the sparse, revolving stage might seem gimmicky at first but actually ties in neatly with the play’s theme of shifting identities.


Don’t come to Cock expecting to see Taron’s todger or gratuitous scenes of male nudity. There aren’t any. But there’s a real sense of intimacy between the two male leads and the sex scenes are cleverly done and very funny. I’ll never think about a twitching erection in quite the same way again.


Cock was first staged in 2010. The world has moved on a lot since then – certainly in terms of sexual fluidity and gender identity. This is acknowledged in the programme notes and glossary of terms provided by Stonewall.


Some people may take offence at one or two lines of dialogue. Others may share one character’s belief that sexuality is really more of “a stew” than previously thought. I wonder what younger audiences will make of it. These days it seems that identities are both less fixed and more important than they were a decade ago.


The ending left me with more questions than answers. But maybe that’s only to be expected. As the playwright Mike Bartlett says, sexual identity “feels like a journey we are on, a conversation that’s still being had.”


The play runs at an hour and 45 minutes without an interval. This might sound long but the time flies by. On opening night there was a standing ovation – and deservedly so.


Cock won’t be to everyone’s taste. I’ve already read two rather sniffy reviews. But for this gay theatre-goer it comes pretty close to the full package.


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