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Cock by Mike Bartlett - Holden Street Theatres

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by Steven G (subscribe)
Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
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This is a play you have to see now
I was lucky enough to be invited to the opening night of a new independent play in Adelaide. And I say lucky because this was an absolutely amazing experience.

This was Cock, written by Mike Bartlett and directed by Darrin Redgate.

cock, poster


It is hard to describe this play without giving away too much, but here is the precis from the original press release: "When John Takes a break from his boyfriend, he accidentally meets the girl of his dreams. Filled with guilt and indecision he decides there is only one way to straighten this out…. Mike Bartlett's metrosexual play about love and longing provides us with who we are and who we want to be."

Now, before the show Darrin came out and told us that this was a "cursed" show. In fact, in its London West End run, its main star was struck down with COVID. Well, the same happened here. Stefanie Rossi, who was to play the only female in the cast of four, was struck ill, and so she was replaced with Maya Carey until Stef recovers. The other actors are Stephen Schofield, David Daradan and James McCluskey-Garcia. And this play rested heavily on them.
darrin, cock, director
Darrin Redgate telling us about the cursed play.


The play is told in an interesting manner. There are no sets, there are no adornments – instead what we have is an octagon, as we would see in MMA fights, filled with sand. This is because, according to Darrin, the play is a cockfight. In fact, the script as written by Bartlett states that there should be no sets. It is a play that is based on the words. The actions are hinted at for the most part; everything boils down to the words and the way the actors deliver them. This is a humorous play, and there were a lot of laughs to be had, but also one with a lot to say. There is also a lot of bad language so if that is something that upsets you, this play may not be for you. Having said that, the language, even the swearing, is used masterfully.

This play was done through an innuendo of action so the words were front and centre. The audience had to really allow themselves to be immersed in the world of the play. We are supposed to see them in our minds having sex, getting undressed, and even eating and drinking. The writing is intense and yet incredibly funny. There is not a wasted word or line. Having said that, when the father appears, it does veer a little into the preachy, but the actors handled it well, and the direction made sure it did not become too overblown.


The fighting metaphor is also done with the sound of a bell indicating time jumps, and there are a lot of them. But it is to the credit of the performers that they managed to get that across to the audience without it being made blatant. The acting is very strong, and, again, the direction makes sure it works.

As a writer, I found the use of language to be so amazingly well done. Things that did not make sense at first were then clarified later on when we had almost a second act. John, the only named character, is on stage for the entirety of the play, and Stephen Schofield who played him delivered an incredible performance. The play rests on him, and he carries it with aplomb. I did pick the ending, but I am a writer of fiction and the ending is the only one that makes sense (in my opinion).

Am I gushing? Because I should be gushing.

I got the chance to speak to Maya Carey afterwards. Maya started as an understudy and then was thrown into the fray in front of an opening night crowd. She told me she graduated from the School of Arts in July, and this is her first professional performance, and yet she had such a major role that she handled with what seemed ease. She described the approach to it as "nerve-wracking", but the cast were very welcoming to her joining them. She knows she will be different to Stef, but that's okay. She said Darrin was very accommodating, and she was glad to be given the opportunity. I asked if she liked the play, and she said she loved it when she first read it and had offered to be an understudy just to be involved, never thinking she would have to perform! On a personal note, I think she is a very talented actor, and I would go to see her again without hesitation.



The play is on at the Holden Street Theatres, 34 Holden Street, Hindmarsh.

Dates: December 1 to December 10.

Times: Wednesday to Saturday 7:45; Saturday matinees on Dec 3 and Dec 10 at 2pm.

Length: 1hr, 40 min.

You need to see this play.

It is incredible.

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Why? This play is incredible
When: Dec 1 to Dec 10
Where: Holden Street Theatre, 34 Holden Street, Hindmarsh
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