Tricia Stiller/review | Play examines defining moments

Tricia Stiller/review | Play examines defining moments

Michael Bartlett's award-winning, serio-comedy might have a title that offends a few people, "Cock." But if you can get past that (and really, you should), you'll find a thoughtful exploration of self that is well-timed in this rapidly changing world.

Artistic director Rick Orr returns to the Station Theatre in Urbana, his humor and empathy in full force, to direct "the rooster play," one man's personal, sexual identity crisis and the confinement one encounters when forced to define who they are and, perhaps more to the point, always will be.

Orr sets the tone for this banty banter immediately with an assist from set designer, Jadon Peck, and lighting designer, Konrad Ciolkosz, who present a blood red center ring, primed and waiting for the fights it will soon hold.

The story follows John (the only character with a proper name) as he emerges from the end of a long-term relationship with his boyfriend, "M." The two men spar, circling the ring with varying degrees of frustration until finally, they agree to take a break.

Enter "W," a beautiful, confident young woman on the tube who one day stops to say hello. John never expected to fall for a woman — after all he's gay, right? That's who he is, isn't it? But over the course of a few weeks, and daily train rides together, he responds — in all ways imaginable.

Confused and in a panic, he runs back to "M," begging for clarity. Unfortunately for John, "M" shows him no mercy, and he finds himself being volleyed back and forth, as both "M" and "W" demand he make a choice.

Bartlett's dialogue is expertly written and emotionally well paced, especially in the hands of the brave and talented ensemble that features Evan Seggebruch as John, Coy Wentworth as "M," Kimmy Schofield, as "W" and Lincoln Machula, as "F" ("M"s father).

Typically staged as one act, Orr presents this with an intermission that may have stalled some momentum. While the strong adult themes and language did cause a few moments of squirming in the seats, the opening night crowd was generally captivated, due to the endearing performance of Seggebruch, who truly captured John's devastating confusion and desperation.

Tricia Stiller is the downtown division manager for Bloomington Community Development and is the artistic director for Bloomington's Summer Theatre Program.

If you go

What: "Cock" by Michael Bartlett

Where: Station Theatre, 223 N. Broadway Ave. U

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday and April 4-7; 3 p.m. today.

Tickets: $15; $10 for students and seniors.

Reservations: 217-384-4000

Running time: one hour and 45 minutes, including a ten-minute intermission.

 

Topics (1):Theater