Review: Kicking against the pricks

23 March 2016

by Olivia Haw

There is nothing quite like hearing that one of your less popular opinions is now held by someone else as well. This is made all the more satisfying given that the opinion in question is regarding that little chestnut, the highly divisive Cock that everyone seems so desperate to crack.

Watching Cock for the first time was at the very least an emotional rollercoaster. I found myself laughing, liking, hating, laughing once again and sympathising with every single character in turn and left wanting to punch all of them with a crackdown order to sort their shit out. I have never watched a play that made me so frustrated and angry, and have never baffled my friends more while trying to tell them what I thought of it. So when my friend Connie plonked down next to me at dinner with a yelp of realisation, a cry of “You!” and only slightly more words than I had to explain her feelings towards the play, I was unbelievably satisfied. Finally! Solidarity!

Despite my mess of thoughts about it, Cock was (to begin with, at least) an enjoyable and very smart investigation into sexuality, identity and monogamy in the 21st century. By the halfway point, the urge to send all the characters to bed with a sharp word and no supper was nothing short of overwhelming. This is a testament to the the collective skill of the actors, brought together to create an infuriating ensemble of twentysomethings desperate to get their own way in the guise of concern for their lovers.

Theo Holt-Bailey and Owen Sparkes are perfect as the warring but marvellously comical couple, maintaining a relationship despite the disgusting toxicity between them. The set-up of Sparkes as the sassy, condescending partner tricks the audience into believing this play is all going to be OK – trust me, it's not. Nothing can prepare you for the arrival of the stunning third party – Dannie Harris as the "homewrecker". The explosive final scene is sharp and irritating, featuring Theo Harrison as the obnoxiously positive father, and left me feeling utterly furious – of course.

Nothing can quite prepare you for the barrage of confusion and frustration that this bloody play provides. Good luck, and try not to punch anyone.

Photo credit: Giulia Delprato