Wednesday, January 13, 2016

reviews - COCK - Nearly Naked Theatre

Ryan L. Jenkins, Jericho Thomas and Dylan Kim
photo: Laura Durant
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through January 30th.

 " The somewhat controversial new play Cock...will most likely still be playing in your mind days after seeing it. Not only is it well written, but Nearly Naked Theatre's production, the play's Arizona premiere, is on par with the well-received original Off-Broadway production, with a very good cast and smart, clear and sharp direction. The premise is fairly simple. John decides it is time to take a break in his relationship with his boyfriend and when he does, he unexpectedly falls for a woman, even though he had never had those types of sexual feelings before. He must then choose which one he wants to be with. While the plot may seem a bit farfetched, playwright Mike Bartlett has crafted a 100-minute play with such depth that it is unlike anything I've seen in a long time. Simple it clearly isn't...Besides the smart dialogue, what elevates the play to something out of the ordinary has to do with the way it is staged. Specifically stated by the author to be performed without a set or props, the entire action of the play takes place on a flat, circular stage with the actors constantly moving, circling each other if they are roosters in a cockfighting ring. We are watching the "fight" unfold in front of us, and what a fight it is. We are witnesses to every plea, outburst, and demand that each character undertakes, and there are many loud arguments and emotional outbreaks.  Director Damon Dering has not only staged the piece beautifully, with good use of Clare Burnet's evocative and precise lighting, but he also draws out perfect, succinct performances from his four actors. Jericho Thomas is John, the quieter member of the gay couple at the center of the play, and Dylan Kim is "M," the more vocal and controlling half. M exudes control but also a strong need to have John in his life. Kim is stellar as the condescending, needy, persuasive, unlikable and demanding man. Thomas is also doing great work here in a part that requires many quiet moments. ...Ryan L. Jenkins is "W," the woman John meets and falls in love with. Jenkins is perfect in the part, with the right balance, like Kim, of control and need, while adding a dose of charm to W that makes us understand why John is drawn to her. ...The fourth character in the play is "F," M's father. Douglas Loynd plays the part with a huge amount of charm and an outpouring of love toward his son. F is fighting for his son's relationship, something any gay kid would love to have his father do for him....Cock is one of the most original, intelligent, and thought-provoking plays of the past ten years. The dialogue and the direction are emotional and raw without the trappings of sets and costumes. Nearly Naked Theatre's Arizona premiere production is a well acted and directed emotional knockout."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"...a very conventional story about a confused man trying to figure out his sexual identity.  It’s a common issue many people face....The new Mike Barlett script is interesting but the dialogue lacks a taunt and tight construction as it takes forever to reveal the rather obvious issues that the characters must confront.  There is nothing out of the ordinary here. ...The acting is more believable than these superficial characters deserve.  Jericho Thomas as John lets audiences see the central character’s sexual struggle.  It may seem obvious to audiences whom John needs, but he really battles his physical desires.  Ryan L. Jenkins, as the woman known as “W,” presents a down-to-earth gal who finds who she thinks is the right guy only to discover his sexual issues as she begins to deal with his doubts.  Dylan Kim as “M,” John’s partner, presents an often caricaturish look at the swishy lover while blustery Douglas Loynd as “M’s” overly supportive father, just wants everything straightened out quickly.  Bartlett’s play is a thoughtful and definitively acted portrait of characters performing a realistic battle that many confront." --Chris Curcio, KBAQ (click here to read the complete review)

"After a distressingly long drought, Nearly Naked Theatre Company is back in provocative form with this talky but electric dramedy about a bisexual love triangle...This production’s stripped-down theatricality (stylized with no set or props) is mandated by playwright Mike Bartlett, and it works smashingly,...While the second act begins to stretch credulity... the thoughtful script has a lot to say about identity and romance in an era of supposed sexual freedom."  - Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic (click here to read the complete review)

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