A play with a naughty name—and serious dramatic cred

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From the May 2014 edition

The four-letter title of Available Light Theatre’s upcoming production (May 8 to 24) evokes something raunchy and sexually provocative, director Ian Short says. He also says that couldn’t be further from the point.

“Cock,” in British vernacular, characterizes protagonist John, “a gay man who has fallen in love with a woman, but he has not switched sides,” Short says. “What makes him so frustrating is not just his indecision but the fact that he wants to be all things to all people.”

Yet John’s sincerity drives the narrative of this award-winning play by British playwright Mike Bartlett. John is a sympathetic character because he’s genuinely torn—his pursuit of happiness is a reminder sexual orientation isn’t an absolute.

“On one side, he’s got a relationship with somebody who understands him—his boyfriend—and they’re comfortable,” Short says. “And on the other path, he has somebody who treats him with a lot more respect, who he could have a biological family with.”

In the play’s 90 minutes, we meet only four characters and see no props. This is where the metaphor of the play’s title comes in. As Short tells it, the characters are boxers, and the stage a ring. “These are people who care a great deal about each other, but they draw blood.” (Pro tip: As with all Available Light Theatre productions, admission to “Cock” will be pay what you want.) avltheatre.com