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Mike Bartlett

Cock

Director Peter Petkovšek

Drama
First Slovenian production 
Translator Tina Mahkota
Opening December 2021

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Hailed as one of the most perspicuous and insightful voices of his generation, English playwright and screenwriter Mike Bartlett (1980) has received numerous nominations and awards for his work in which he tackles many topical socio-political issues with a keen sense of human relationships and the complexities of contemporary society.
Following a successful production of Contractions in 2013, Bartlett returns to our theatre as the author of Cock which originally opened to popular and critical acclaim at the Royal Court Theatre in London in 2009. It won the playwright his first prestigious Laurence Olivier Award a year later. The provocative title cleverly captures several levels of meaning: in addition to the term for the male sex organ, it also establishes a connection to cockfights, as Bartlett wrote the play during his writer’s residency in Mexico City. There he had the opportunity to observe cockfights which appealed to him as a metaphor for theatre. "Cock" can also be a label for a contemptuous or uncouth person, "cocksure" is an adjective for someone who is extremely self-absorbed or over-confident, and finally, "a cock and bull story" is an implausible story used as an explanation or excuse. All these subtle nuances are layered in the play in which the protagonist John is torn between his long-time male partner and a loving woman he has recently met. He has promised both of them that he would stay with him or her. The story reaches its climax in a dinner scene when their diametrically opposed interpretations of the world collide.
At first glance, this is a study of bisexuality and the fluidity of sexual preferences, but Cock goes deeper to elucidate the question that lies within each of us: Who are you? John represents a nameless John Doe who is identified only by the perspectives of others. To the “be-yourself” suggestion, or, to be more precise “be-what-you-are”, he replies, “But I haven't the faintest idea who that is.” Time and again, he gives in to the stronger tendency of his interlocutor, who categorises him in one way or another. He is forced by everyone to make a decision, a robust choice, a clear statement, while he actually becomes more and more entangled in the identity web of a failed coming-of-age story, in which he is able to position himself only by negating the projections of others, not by affirming himself. The result is a sophisticated and universal look into a very human plight that any individual can experience, especially in a time of pandemic crisis and quarantine. 
Welcome to a situation on the constant brink of total eruption or collapse, or as the English say, “At full cock.”     

A sophisticated insight into the distress that everyone can experience in times of a pandemic and quarantine crisis. 

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