Theatre Review: A Cock and Bull Story, 10 June, Kitsch Coffee Bar, Edinburgh

11 Jun

*****

Gay. For such a small word it’s amazing how much hate it can generate, controversy it can lead to and pain it can inflict: though it only contains three characters, you’d sometimes be forgiven for thinking it’s a four letter word.

While modern society prides itself on its liberal attitude to homosexuality and an understanding of gay issues, hate crimes and gay bashing still occur and form the basis for Liam Rudden’s revival of 1980’s play, A Cock and Bull Story.

Up-and-coming amateur boxer Travis (Stuart Ryan) is about to enter the ring once more to fight for a crucial title which will result in fame and glory, while his mate Jacko (David Elliot) encourages him.

When it becomes clear that the homophobic jibes of local youths might have some substance to them following an occurrence during one of Travis’s fights, the pair’s friendship is strained to breaking point as they try to understand their true feelings for each other.

With the perfunctory set placed in the confines of Kitsch Coffee Bar, a simple black cloth forming the backdrop and a poster of Rocky adding a touch of colour to proceedings, the small audience were more uncomfortable eavesdroppers than detached observers to on-stage events.

Opening to the sight of Travis and Jacko staggering home after yet another booze soaked night out, the pair full of alcohol induced bravado as they manhandle each other down the street with the mock-homoerotic undertones permeating the production, both actors capture their characters within seconds.

These men may have a shared history but they clearly have increasingly disparate views on life, love and the future: the contemplative Travis sees success as leading to a bright future in London, the boorish Jacko thinks of the birds and the booze. Travis may on the surface agree with his friend’s outlook, but there’s clearly more going on beneath the surface.

Exactly what is happening in the mind of the two is at the heart of the story. Both vent their feelings and anger regularly, leading to physical violence, but it’s the look in the eyes of the pair that tells another story.

The threat of what being labelled with the “gay” tag could mean for both Travis and Jacko’s reputations within their fiercly working class neighbourhood is handled well by the actors, the stigma attached portrayed with refreshing, if at times disturbing, honesty.

Elliot in particular is full of nuanced glances directed at both his co-star and off-stage, while Ryan has perfected the ability to say one thing vocally while saying even more with a number of well-judged silences. Both bounce off each other with ease, vital if the audience is to buy into their reactions throughout the production.

Landing a final emotional punch upon the audience which left a number of questions to be pondered on the way home, A Cock and Bull Story is an emotionally hard-hitting play whose leads’ impressive verbal sparring promotes it from lightweight to heavyweight with ease.

A Cock and Bull Story runs at Edinburgh Kitsch Coffee Bar until Saturday.  Visit the Emerald Blue website for more details.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: