Theater Review: '----' (The Cockfight Play) -- 3 stars
"----" (The Cockfight Play)
Please be advised that "The Cockfight Play" is not this show's actual title, which is not printable in this or probably any other major newspaper. You can probably figure it out based on our proxy.
Mike Bartlett's intense, occasionally comedic drama, which premiered in London in 2009, follows John (Cory Michael Smith), a 29-year-old English male who has been gay for most of his adult life and is involved with an older man who is simply named M (Jason Butler Harner).
When the two decide to take a break, John is unexpectedly tempted by a divorced female, appropriately named W (Amanda Quaid), who desperately tries to win John for herself. John is even surprised at how much he enjoys sex with her.
This leads to an ultimate dinner party scene where M and W fight over John, who seems emotionally paralyzed and unable to make a decision. Oddly enough, M has invited over his father, F (Cotter Smith), who serves as M's advocate and peppers John with questions.
James Macdonald's spare, in-the-round staging is framed around a wooden cockfighting arena where the audience sits on uncomfortable, stadium-style benches.
Since there is little space and no scenery in the circular center of the ring, the cast remains very close to the audience. As the setting suggests, M and W are there to fight over John, who is torn between them and confused over his sexuality.
Smith convincingly makes for an open young man whose attractive looks make him bait for more aggressive partners.
Harner stands out with an eccentric performance that brings humor to this winner-take-all battle.
Just in case you were wondering, there is no nudity. In fact, the play's title is never even uttered by any of the characters.