Review: Cock, Radio 3

”You want your boyfriend’s help with the woman you’re sleeping with”
 
I don’t listen to the radio much at all, but when Twitter notified me of the broadcasting of Mike Bartlett’s play Cock on Radio 3, with the original cast intact, I decided to make an exception. It was a play that I very much enjoyed when I saw it at the Royal Court Upstairs back in December 2009 and Bartlett has emerged as one of my favourite new writers, especially when he is focusing on the sharp intimate edges of human relationships.
 
Cock focuses on John’s difficulties when he realises how fluid his sexuality is. During a rough patch with his boyfriend, he has a random hook-up with a woman he has seen before on his daily commute and his eyes are opened to a whole world of new possibilities. But as he decides what, and who, he wants, the pressure from the others to make a choice increases.

The radio programme started with a nice little introduction about the writing of the play from Bartlett, talking about how he started in a cafe in the gay district of Mexico City and let his characters take on lives of their own before shaping them into a narrative. And listening to the show reminded me of so much of what was good about it: Andrew Scott’s amazing range of intense emotion and usage of the word ‘fuck-puppetry’ and Katherine Parkinson’s razor-sharp characterisation of a woman determined not to let go.
 
I still am not totally sure the late introduction of a character is strictly necessary though Paul Jesson does well. And I didn’t think Ben Whishaw’s voice came across quite as well as the others, more of his performance for me obviously came from the physical side of things. Indeed, it made me wonder how people usually engage with radio drama like this, as I can’t imagine anyone could listen to this whilst doing anything else, it really does demand the full attention. Still, it was a lovely opportunity to revisit an excellent production – even if it had a lot less swearing in it.

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