By Wendy Rosenfield
for the Inquirer
Cock, by Mike Bartlett, is occasionally--for both thematic and practical reasons--called The Cockfight Play. In a bisexual love triangle with one spectacularly indecisive young man at its apex, his lovers battling for his affections, there’s bound to be some bloodletting. But Theatre Exile’s funny, sensitive production, directed by Deborah Block, and staged in the round on a low, hexagonal wooden platform, feels more like a slow, sad game of Chinese checkers. This is not an insult.
Sure, people fall in and out of love ferociously, viciously, but they also do it in fits and starts, a leap closer, a few hops back. As Wes Haskell’s boyish, blue-eyed John and John Jarboe’s v-necked, buttoned-down broker M discover after seven years together, it’s tough enough one on one, with a definitive sexual orientation. When John meets Mary Tuomanen’s no-nonsense W, he shocks himself by falling in love, and during an ill-advised dinner meeting between the trio and M’s father, F (Benjamin Lovell), it becomes clear to them all that John, a serial liar who refuses commit to either partner, is so desirable precisely because his entire identity has been crafted to reflect other people’s desires. Of course, this is hardly a deterrent, though it is a detriment to each in his or her own way.