Cock

PrintCockfighting is illegal in all 50 states (and the District of Columbia). Kinetic Theatre breaks the law and replaces the roosters with sharp performances in a production that is just as blunt as it’s title- Cock.

British playwright Mike Bartlett puts extended emphasis on the dramatic situation of the piece. John is having wavering feelings for his long time boyfriend after having fallen in love with a woman. The story is told in series of rounds, without exposition, and incendiary scenes between the characters. Director, Andrew Paul takes into consideration the importance of Bartlett’s premise. The entire show takes place within a cockfight ring designed by Johnmichael Bohach, and is done without any props or full actualization. Rather, the audience watches the characters hungrily like they have their bets placed.

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Ethan Hova, left, Thomas Constantine Moore, right

Every performance in Cock is so intrinsic and compelling. Thomas Constantine Moore is doe-eyed, vulnerable, and allows the audience to watch his character’s discoveries and conflicts in earnest. His indecision is infuriating but wildly empathetic. This indecision lays between Ethan Hova and Erika Strasburg, the two lovers. Ethan Hova is a marvelous bundle of sarcasm, quip, fear, and enough pity to make you fall in love with him. Strasburg holds solid ground in the fight, she pulls John towards her with longing and strength. Sam Tsoutsouvas’ appearance as the father shouldn’t work as he isn’t introduced until the late third act, but this play is so good it wouldn’t work without it. This cast goes for blood, creating such a naturalistic space within their ring that Cock feels like such an improvised and honest work.

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Thomas Constantine Moore and Erika Strasburg

Andrew Paul’s direction lies within Cock’s indirection. Characters rarely touch, and relies on the dialogue to create the actualization. The direction heightens the drama. By not seeing what the character’s discuss it only makes it more beautiful, more ferocious, more erotic. Alex Stevens lighting design is a persistent addition that grows in drama with the production. The harsh, hot lights above the center of the ring are almost like a heat lamp glowing over incubating chicken eggs. This heat is a constant element that causes sweat to roll from the cast’s pores, most compelling in Thomas Constantine Moore’s final moment of decision.

Cock is gripping and exciting and wonderfully original. Kinetic Theatre lives up to it’s name, giving the perfect amount of energy for their dynamic production.

Special thanks to Kinetic Theatre Company for complimentary press tickets. Cock runs at Pittsburgh Playwright’s Theater until May 29th. For tickets and more information, click here