Sunday, April 6, 2014

Cock (Red Turnip Theater)

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John (Topper Fabregas) has not been a very faithful partner. His infidelity starts off on the daily commute where he exchanges glances with a girl, whose name is not mentioned so we will just call her W (Jenny Jamora). Soon, the two of them are sleeping together, not just once, not just twice. This does not sit well with John’s boyfriend, whose name is not mentioned either so we will just call him M (Niccolo Manahan). Unable to decide which one to choose even after weighing the various pros and cons, John gets a suggestion from M, which is for all three of them to meet. He says he would even prepare dinner. M also invites his father (Audie Gemora) who has been supportive of the gay couple’s relationship in spite of his initial reluctance to it. As John’s white lies begin to surface amidst the confrontation, he is forced not just by circumstance, but also by the other three characters to make up his mind, which he simply could not come to accomplish. Perhaps his question sums it all up best: can’t he just have both?

What really comes as a surprise is the set, or lack of it. The sofa is non-existent. The kitchen is non-existent. The dinner is non-existent. All you have is a blank space which all four characters try to maximize, relying on some good old mime techniques to show what any other activity they should be doing while conversing with one another. Conversation is the main focus of this straight play. Stripped down to the bare necessities, the play is heavily dependent on dialogue to send its message across. As such, if you hate such pieces laden with kilometric dialogues, then this play might just not be for you.

The lack of set and props could actually be considered as a good thing because you are then forced to listen to what each character has to stay. This also means that a good ensemble should be present because no one would ever watch a badly acted play with just dialogues in it, right? Of course! It is a good thing that Fabregas, Manahan, and Jamora have good rapport to keep everything in motion. Otherwise, this would have been a snooze fest. While some people might consider the verbal catfight between M and W as the main selling point of the play, it is actually John’s confusion and inability to decide which grabs the audience’s attention.

Fabregas plays the part well, and actually has good chemistry with both Manahan and Jamora that we are convinced of his serious plight. Manahan is the feisty one in the relationship, and he is able to maintain a kind of superior aura whenever the two men appear together onstage. Jamora is not to be outdone and brings forth a strong performance that would most likely be remembered by the audience for the no holds barred approach. Since all three of them are competent actors, one is able to nitpick less and focus more on what they are saying, which is probably what matters most in this play.

The dialogues are long and dragging at times but this does not necessarily mean that they are detrimental to the play as a whole. In fact, a lot of the arguments will make you wonder and reflect on your very own views, not just on the issue of homosexual relationships, but also of human relations in general, on how two human beings serve as the catalyst for both their development and destruction. If you think about John’s dilemma, you would also probably wonder why it is the case that one could not enjoy the best of both worlds. In the end you might just conclude that we have indeed come a long way as a race, tripping over the non-codified social norms which we insist on imposing on ourselves on a daily basis.

Last but not the least, the sex scene in this play is the most hilarious and interestingly enough, the least perverted one I have seen on stage.

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