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Cock @ Main Street Cabaret

THE BASICS:  This “dark comedy” by up-and-coming British playwright Mike Bartlett is receiving its local premiere at the Main Street Cabaret, the front part of the Alleyway Theatre complex.  This is a BUA/ Theater Jugend coproduction.  Drew McCabe directs a cast of four.  COCK runs weekends through June 7th.  The show runs about 100 minutes.  There is no intermission.

THUMBNAIL SKETCH:  Great Britain, present day.  John, a young gay man, in an established, long-term but increasingly strained relationship, falls for a young woman, a fellow bus-rider.  Will he stay with the catty, supercilious “M”, to whom he feels most indebted, or fly off with the sweet, lonely “W”, a pretty divorcee with whom he can picture leading a “normal” life?

THE PLAY, THE PLAYERS AND THE PRODUCTION:  COCK plays out as a series of short scenes, using sound effects to suggest backward or forward jumps in time.  Bartlett not only inverts the usual closeted-man-coming-out tale, he throws in “M”s father, “F”, as an ally for “M”—thundering on about how much he loves both young men, and how awful it would be for them to break it up!  These “clever” twists make the whole thing somewhat difficult to buy, in my opinion.  As the amiable but highly conflicted John, Steve Brachmann adds another to his growing list of admirable characterizations.  Jamie Nablo gives something of a breakthrough performance here as “W”—blending sensitivity and wakening joy with a fierce, protective edge.  Would that I could have understood more of her lines; quiet, naturalistic delivery is all but impossible in the awkward, sound-sucking Cabaret space.  This problem is even worse for Sean Marciniak as “M”, whose “flaming” gay characterization is awash in evocative body language, gesticulation.  Shaun McLaughlin rounds out the cast as the blunt Modern Father, fighting hard to protect his son’s romantic interest!

English accents are employed by all, and in this the production, in an attempt to be authentic, is less than a roaring success.  Did I mention nudity?  There is some, both male and female, with all the bodies on display being nice and trim.  Director McCabe’s unusual, upright staging of the John-and-“W”-in-bed scene has a cheerful, mischievous quality.  I wish I could say that I liked playwright Bartlett’s no-ending ending. I didn’t.  Toward the play’s end, we are led to believe that John has had an epiphany with regard to finding a meaningful love relationship.  Sorry, folks.  I left feeling rather cheated.

IN SUM:  Here’s something different, a relationship comedy with decidedly new wrinkles, and enough nudity to keep you awake.  I have my issues, however, and they are substantial enough to drop this one down to

**Two-Buffalos-NY-center-505-pix-1

 

*HERD OF BUFFALO (Notes on the Rating System)

ONE BUFFALO: This means trouble. A dreadful play, a highly flawed production, or both. Unless there is some really compelling reason for you to attend (i.e. you are the parent of someone who is in it), give this show a wide berth.

TWO BUFFALOS: Passable, but no great shakes. Either the production is pretty far off base, or the play itself is problematic. Unless you are the sort of person who’s happy just going to the theater, you might look around for something else.

THREE BUFFALOS: I still have my issues, but this is a pretty darn good night at the theater. If you don’t go in with huge expectations, you will probably be pleased.

FOUR BUFFALOS: Both the production and the play are of high caliber. If the genre/content are up your alley, I would make a real effort to attend.

FIVE BUFFALOS: Truly superb–a rare rating. Comedies that leave you weak with laughter, dramas that really touch the heart. Provided that this is the kind of show you like, you’d be a fool to miss it!

 

Written by Grant Golden

Grant Golden

GRANT GOLDEN wears a number of hats. He has been practicing radiology in Buffalo since 1981, for the past 15 years, with Seton Imaging. Dr Laszlo Tabar, internationally famous mammographer, has been his special friend and mentor.

Grant began The Old Chestnut Film Society, Buffalo’s only film society, in 1983. Now in its 35th consecutive season, the OCFS does monthly screenings of Hollywood classics in 16mm.

He has written the scores (and some of the books) for a number of locally produced musicals, including the old WONDERMAKERS shows, THE OTHER ISLAND, NOBODY’S INN (Alleyway Theatre), IZZY! (Musicalfare), and ME II (Western Door Playhouse). He reviewed local plays on the radio for 20 years--on WBEN and WBFO—before making the switch to BuffaloRising.

Grant and his lovely wife Deborah live in Central Park with their dog Ginger, and cats Ella and Felix. They have three adult children, and now, happily, two grandchildren!

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