Los Angeles Theater Preview: COCK (Rogue Machine)

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by Tony Frankel on September 9, 2014

in Theater-Los Angeles

THE PERFECT COCK

Whether breeding chickens or designing your kitchen with rooster tchotchkes, it can be challenging to find the perfect cock. But if you’re looking to find it in the theater, your search is over. I refer to the play Cock, the Los Angeles premiere of which opens at Rogue Machine this week.

Patrick Stafford and Rebecca Mozo in the Los Angeles Premiere of COCK by Mike Bartlett at Rogue Machine.

The punning, provocative title is hardly tongue-in-cheek—British playwright Mike Bartlett’s 2009 Olivier Award-winning one-act depicts a war not just between the sexes but within them: Four fierce antagonists crouch and spar, engaged in forensic dialogues as energetic as any wrestling match or dirty dog-fighting á la Michael Vick. The battle is for the body and soul of handsome young John, a presumably gay Londoner who’s been living with his controlling but devoted boyfriend M in unwedded non-bliss.

Enter W, a comely young woman whose sympathy touches John in ways that M does not. A kind of visceral exaggeration of Showtime’s Masters of Sex series, this go-for-broke grudge match gets played out in rounds that chronicle the tug of war for cute, confused John. Inevitably, John introduces W to M and a bitch fight erupts in all directions. Adding to the mayhem, M’s very accepting dad, F, defends his son’s right to love John without competition from the wrong sex. To say that feathers fly is an understatement.

Rebecca Mozo, Patrick Stafford, Matthew Elkins, and Gregory Itzin in the Los Angeles Premiere of COCK by Mike Bartlett at Rogue Machine.

“People I knew would say they were gay or say they were straight,” Bartlett wrote. “But I had experiences that were the opposite of that. A lot of people want to know my sexuality. I think that’s exactly at the heart of the play: Why do we need to know what people do in the bedroom and the gender of the people they have sex with? That’s fascinating. And I think it’s my job to ask those questions—but not necessarily to answer them.”

Cameron Watson directs the Los Angeles Premiere of COCK by Mike Bartlett at Rogue Machine.This Cock just gets bigger and bigger with every sterling artist involved in John Perrin Flynn’s production. Director Cameron Watson is masterful—he discovered nuance, beats, and back story to each of the many characters in Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls at Antaeus, one of the best productions L.A. has ever seen.

Patrick Stafford (John) created two remarkably memorable performances at the Production Company, both of which remain favorites of mine: Alan in Equus and Mozart in Amadeus. Rebecca Mozo’s (W) lengthy regional credits attest to her skill—from the Taper to Boston Court, A Noise Within, The Colony, The Matrix and South Coast Rep, Mozo has consistently proven herself a multi-dimensional, intelligent actress. You may have seen Gregory Itzin (F) on TV as President Charles Logan on 24, but fortunate are those who have witnessed his powerful turns on stage, such as in The Kentucky Cycle and Enron. Fortunately, Itzin keeps his craft strong by performing on small stages in L.A., such as Antaeus. Matthew Elkins (M), who appeared in Rogue Machine’s West Coast Premieres of Falling and A Bright New Boise, rounds out this cockfight.

Rebecca Mozo and Patrick Stafford in the Los Angeles Premiere of COCK by Mike Bartlett at Rogue Machine.

Sure, the cast will make you feel good, but who doesn’t like a Cock that looks good as well? The who’s who of designers includes Stephen Gifford (sets), Jared A. Sayeg (lights), and Kate Bergh (costumes). And who doesn’t like a long, loud cock at 6 in the morning? Christopher Moscatiello’s sound design will no doubt wake you up.

Now that I found the perfect Cock for you, let’s see if you can handle it.

photos by John Flynn

Cock
Rogue Machine
Theatre/Theater, 5041 W. Pico Blvd. (west of La Brea)
Sat at 5; Sun at 7; Mon at 8 (no performances 9/22, 10/20, 11/2)
scheduled to end on November 3, 2014
for tickets, call 855-585-5185 or www.roguemachinetheatre.com

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