‘COCK’, Chichester Festival Theatre- A Review.

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a play at the Chichester Festival Theatre. I’ve lived here for 2 years now and this was my first journey there, which is shameful really. It’s an extremely renowned theatre and I feel very privileged that my university has such close connections with it. The theatre opened its doors in 1962 and has been entertaining the public ever since. I went to see the play ‘COCK’ last night, written by Mike Bartlett (Doctor Foster) and Directed by Kate Hewit.

THE STORY 

Without giving away the whole storyline, it follows a young man called John who is exploring his own personal identity and sexuality through two relationships with the opposing genders. It has themes of sex, love, family, sexuality and gender.  We see John, who’s in a long-term relationship with his boyfriend (no name), meet a girl who he starts to like. We see the internal and external battle from John whilst he finds out what’s right for his future. Overall, it’s a comedic storyline set in the modern day with an awful lot of references and language that I can personally relate to. The writing manages to break up the serious moments with great explosions of comedy. I personally really liked the naturalistic language of the characters. Towards the end of the play, we see some very intense moments, especially from John (played by the incredible Luke Thallon). I have to say I shed a tear when he has to make his decision. The play makes you really think about today’s society and our obsession with labels and rules. It’s not often you see bisexuality within theatre and especially not a gay man falling for a female.

ACTING 

Of COURSE, the acting was incredible. I’ve seen an awful lot of amateur plays and musicals and a good handful of professional musicals but this was actually my first professional play. With a piece like this, with only 4 characters who share intense moments, I sometimes find it hard to relax into it. Possibly because I know what a challenge a piece like this would be. Within the first few minutes, I gave my trust to these actors and I could enjoy their talents and the script without thinking of the technicalities behind it.

Luke Thallon (Albion, The Inheritance) gave an effortlessly naturalistic performance of a confused young man, finding himself in a world where you have to know what you ‘are’. I can see an awful lot of people relating to Johns struggles and Luke delivered it perfectly and became extremely likeable. Matthew Needham (Sherlock, The Twilight Zone) played Johns boyfriend. You could feel the energy radiating off him. He put his all into his performance and believed every word he said. His physical characterisation really impressed me and of course his comedic timing. 

The other love interest was played by Isabella Laughland (Harry Potter, The Inbetweeners). She delivered a controlled, professional and seemingly effortless performance with a sexual confidence and comedic flare. I really warmed to her character and I would actually love a go at playing her one day. Towards the middle of the play, we meet the boyfriends Dad, played by the renowned Simon Chandler (The Lord Of The Rings, The Kings Speech). I particularly enjoyed his dynamic with Isabella as they debated the morals of a modern-day relationship.

Overall, I really warmed to all the characters and my personal opinion on what I wanted the outcome to be changed each scene. I felt really deeply for the 3 characters in the love triangle at each moment of the play and I could connect with situations from my own life.

STAGING 

The play was set in the round, with minimal lighting and sound. The scenes were broken up with simple flashes of light and a horn. I have to say, I appreciate the simplicity of it. There’s always a temptation to use lots of projections, sounds and light but this play really didn’t need it. Just 4 talented actors on an empty stage with no props. One scene I found very interesting was the sex scene. No physical contact involved. I don’t want to give it all away but I thought it was very interesting. The theatre itself is lovely. This was performed in the Minerva theatre, a smaller auditorium with a hexagon shaped stage in the middle of the raised seating.

Overall, I had such a good evening watching this 90 minute one act. From the moment the actors walked on stage I was invested and I’ll reccomend anyone ni the local area to go have a watch. I’ll 100% be back to CFT and the Minerva Theatre. Thanks for reading and thanks to CFT for having me.

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