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Cock

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Four stars

The shapes projected onto the stage floor of the Tron speak volumes about Mike Bartlett's four-sided dissection of the twenty-first century mating game at the opening of Andy Arnold's revival, the first since the play premiered in 2009. A circle, two rectangles and an L shape not only frame the action on an otherwise bare performing area before they morph into a large square that looks like something more gladiatorial. They also suggest something more scientific is at play than just lust.

James Anthony Pearson is John, a young gay man perfectly at home with his long-term partner, but who finds himself falling for a woman in a way that turns out to be about a lot more than sex. He thinks women are like water when you really want a beer. She thinks he's like something drawn with a pencil and in need of colouring in.

Little linguistic flourishes like this are peppered throughout an at times filthily comic tug of love. Determined to keep things civilised, dinner for three is arranged, only to be upended by the arrival of John's lover's father. In the end, three won't go into two, however torn John might be. With all other characters known only by a generic letter, Bartlett's game of metrosexual charades resembles a 1970s TV play exploring whatever passed for the permissive society in suburban Britain at the time.

This is not to its detriment. As Johnny McKnight's M and Isobel McArthur's W spar furiously over John, Vincent Friell's F lends a more obviously macho weight to what is essentially a stripped-down study of what happens when everyday behaviour is driven to extremes.

The Herald, February 12th 2016

ends


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