There's no-where to hide in the script. The stage directions are as follows "There is no scenery, no props, no furniture and no mine. Instead the focus is entirely on the drama of the scene." In fact, only one of the four characters, John, even gets a name. The others are M, F and W. Playwright Mike Bartlett puts all the work on the actors and director. Cock is very much a play about people and relationships and nothing will stand in the way of that. It's noon in the Gaelic Football Association Grounds at Willawong. Here the fields are home to intense football battles but today the action is in the clubhouse where rehearsals for Cock are well underway. Director Helen Howard says she is excited to bring "this amazing play" to life. The title, she admits is deliberately provocative saying Bartlett is an extraordinary wordsmith. "It's in the punctuation and the pauses and the gaps and the silences,'" she says of the writing. The taunts and the rhythms of words - at time sparse and at times poetic - have intense power, Helen says. Cock is the story of a young man torn between his long-term male partner and a new female love interest. The father of one of the men completes the cast. Cock is about the fight between the characters. "It's a bit like throwing a drop of acid into some lives to take away all the shit .. and reveal the bones of the relationships underneath," says Helen. Derek Draper, a co-producer of Cock who also plays M, agrees while the title of the play may be an euphemism. But he says he believes Bartlett was fascinated with the fight for futures and emotions are played out in an arena. This is not about winners or losers because any victory will be pyrrhic. "He goes quite literally into the cock ring," says Derek. "People can assume anything whatever they like about that term but it basically means there is a ring of drama which Bartlett has drawn our attention to and I think he was thinking as much about cock fights as any part of the male anatomy." Helen adds that it is refined rather than in-your-face or vulgar. "It is refined. It is shocking in tis emotional story rather than any references to sex. Though, I must tell you it's got the best sex scene I've ever read." Both agree that it is the job of the independent sector - such as Bosco productions to present works like Cock. Audiences who give it a go will not be disappointed, says Helen. "When you get a play written by a writer like Bartlett, do you dare stay away?" Helen asks. "Because you will be changed by it."
Cock will be performed at Metro Arts August 21-31. The full interview with Helen and Derek can be heard here.