John, dissatisfied with his boyfriend, called it quits then hooked up with a girl. He decided he still loved his boyfriend, went back to him, while not exactly leaving his girlfriend, either.
This messed-up tangle between three people was the premise of “Cock”, currently staging at the Whitespace.
Love triangles are a staple of fiction. Even queer love triangles are not so uncommon, such as the recent social media-trending local soap, “My Husband’s Lover”. On paper, Cock seemed like it wasn’t showing anything new.
And in many ways, it didn’t — at least from the perspective of this gay man who has had several relationships and is barely over his last one. I had seen this before, I had lived this before, everything looked somewhat familiar.
But what Cock did show was often sadder, more painful, and more emotionally unforgiving than typical love triangle stories. Love hurts and lovers often hurt each other deeply. And this was a comedy.
John (Topper Fabregas), the adorably awkward man-child, recently discovered he might be bisexual. He loved his boyfriend but, after several years into the relationship, felt emotionally abused. he thought he found solace and satisfaction with a woman he recently met and started dating. He didn’t know who he was or what he liked, and he was trapped in between two lovers who wanted him for themselves.
M (Niccolo Manahan) was the sassy and sophisticated boyfriend. Articulate and condescending, he makes a show of how much he wanted John to go and leave him after discovering John’s affair, and yet he still meticulously prepared to fight for his man. His weapon was a cheesecake.
W (Jenny Jamora) was the gutsy girlfriend, and ballsier than any of the three men. She was assertive and caring, yet clingy to a man she had only known for a short time. It would be interesting to read someone review her character from a feminist perspective.
F (Audie Gemora) was M’s father, an unexpected visitor that further complicated an already tense dinner-slash-ultimate bitch fight between M and W. One of the minor things I didn’t like about the play was Mr Gemora’s Southern drawl that seemed to clash with the occasional reference to London, where the story was set.
The play had no props, no costume changes, and a very spartan set. Stripped of the usual theatrical spectacle, the audience was left with biting dialogue, interesting choreography, and an epic ham-on-ham battle. There was sex but no nudity; how that was played out was one of my favorite parts of the play.
There was one winner in this ultimate bitch fight. But in unraveling the tangle of dysfunctions, you know that in the end everyone lost something. A comedy with no happy ending.
With a play like Cock, you and the people you watch it with will pick which characters you related to best. Most of the friends I saw it with could identify with John.
I identified with M.
“Cock” will run until April 6 at Whitespace, 2314 Chino Roces Avenue Extension, Makati. Tickets are available through TicketWorld (8919999 or www.ticketworld.com.ph) or Red Turnip Theater (firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/RedTurnipTheater).