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THEATER: Bisexual Fence-Sitter At The Heart of Mike Bartlett’s Cock

After a successful run in London some years back, Mike Bartlett’s romantic drama, Cock, is coming to off-Broadway this spring with a limited run beginning May 1 at the Duke on 42nd Street.

In the play, wishy-washy John takes a break from his longtime boyfriend and winds up in bed with a woman. But Cock is less a rumination on bisexuality than it is a look at “the paralyzing indecision that stems from not knowing who one really is,” as Michael Billington wrote in the Guardian.

Ironically, Cock‘s original Olivier-winning run at London The Royal Court Theatre featured UK actor Ben Whishaw (Brideshead Revisted, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer), who knows a thing or two about playing both sides of the field: Wishaw (right), who is starring as M in the next Bond flick, Skyfall, told New York magazine he was straight but essentially outed himself in an interview in Out magazine.

The U.S. version stars newcomer Cory Michael Smith as John, with Jason Butler Harner (Alcatraz), Amanda Quaid (Equus) and Cotter Smith (Next Fall, The Good Wife) rounding out the cast.

Cock runs at the Duke Tue—Sun from May 1 to July 22. Photos: Kike Valencia, Tristam Kenton

By:           Dan Avery
On:           Apr 1, 2012
Tagged: , , , , ,

  • 15 Comments
    • Lefty
      Lefty

      I genuinely don’t think he’s being dishonest. He’s a great actor and has played a few gay roles over the years – in fact, one of the first roles I ever saw him in was over ten years ago in a short film on national TV in the UK – it was one of the first gay portrayals I”d seen on TV and, as always, he was very open and honest in the role. I just think he’s navigating himself, as it were. He genuinely seemed unsure in that early interview about how to present himself. I don’t know if he’s gay, bi or straight (I assume he’s either gay or bi), but he certainly isn’t homophobic.

      Apr 1, 2012 at 9:55 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • RichX
      RichX

      Um, no, he’s not playing M. Judi Dench continues in that role. He’ll be Q, the technogeek played by John Cleese in the last few movies, and Desmond Llewellen for 35 years before Cleese.

      Apr 1, 2012 at 10:01 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Prof Sancho Panza
      Prof Sancho Panza

      To be fair to Ben Whishaw, he didn’t say he was straight in the New York magazine interview. When the interviewer asked him and Hugh Dancy (it was a joint interview) about being straight men agreeing to play gay roles in The Pride, Whishaw didn’t contradict him. He focused instead on why there’s nothing wrong with any actor playing gay roles – which actually made a stronger point, I thought.

      Apr 1, 2012 at 1:02 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jason
      jason

      Bisexuals are not fence-sitters. They’re not sitting on anything. It’s demeaning to call them fence-sitters.

      Bisexually oriented people are people who are oriented to both sexes to varying degrees. It could be miniscule, it could be major. It varies according to the individual.

      Apr 1, 2012 at 5:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Joebarb
      Joebarb

      @jason: couldn’t agree more.

      Apr 1, 2012 at 7:16 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ok, ok
      Ok, ok

      @jason: Wow you’ve found your “thing” to complain about for the day and made bisexuals sound like indecisive whores at the same time. Congrats.

      Apr 1, 2012 at 7:36 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • eggsel
      eggsel

      IMHO the play isn’t that good, it’s not well written i understand why people like it and why both gay & str8 audience like it, but for me was plain. Good idea, bad execution

      Apr 1, 2012 at 8:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Marcos
      Marcos

      STFU Ok, ok, you’re a troll. Jason is actually correct that calling bisexuals ‘fence sitters’ is a biphobic slur, and he’s correct about bisexuality as you don’t have to be 50/50 or equally attracted to both genders in order to be bisexual. I doubt that most people would like it if a play came out and the character was a gay man and queerty reviewed it and called him a faggot.

      Apr 1, 2012 at 9:12 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Marcos
      Marcos

      STFU Ok, ok, you’re a t roll. Jason is actually correct that calling bisexuals ‘fence sitters’ is a bip hobic s lur, and he’s correct about bisexuality as you don’t have to be 50/50 or equally attracted to both genders in order to be bisexual. I doubt that most people would like it if a play came out and the character was a gay man and queerty reviewed it and called him a f aggot.

      Apr 1, 2012 at 9:16 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Moo
      Moo

      Cleese’s character was called R, so I guess Wishaw will be playing S. I’m actually hoping it’ll be Q though.

      Apr 2, 2012 at 7:21 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • JupiterThunder
      JupiterThunder

      Plays like this really do re-justify my fears of entering a longterm relationship with a bisexual man.

      I’ve known far too many gay men who’ve had their hearts broken by bisexual men who leave them for a woman/wive and a ‘normal’ life.

      Nothing against bisexual men but I can’t see myself taking such a risk on my heart.

      Apr 2, 2012 at 8:45 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • JupiterThunder
      JupiterThunder

      @eggsel:

      Did the ‘formerly gay’ bisexual man end up with the woman so they could marry, have kids, with a dog and a nice suburbs house?

      Was the gay boyfriend left in the cold with his gay lifestyle to inevitably die alone?

      I’ve read plot synopsis of the play and I do NOT like how the gay boyfriend is portrayed as every gay stereotype (more so on being a bitchy queen) and the woman is portrayed as a perfect doting girlfriend.

      The ‘gay’ main character tried straight sex…and was converted and fell in love.

      It rings as a ‘ex-gay’ fable to be honest….

      Apr 2, 2012 at 8:58 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Not all gay men are bi-phobic
      Not all gay men are bi-phobic

      Jupiter Thunder keep your bi-phobia and bisexual erasure to yourself. Just because you’re a b igot and don’t want to get into relationships with bisexual men does not mean that all of us gay men are, that what’s described in the play doesn’t happen, or that relationships between bisexual and gay men can’t and don’t work since they do. IME most relationships between two gay men are not always that stable and don’t last.

      The dirty little secret that never gets addressed in the so called “gay” world is the fact that many gay men do go through a second coming out and re-identify as bisexual. These men may still overwhelmingly prefer men, but their orientation and identity are not exclusively towards men. And how their attraction to both sexes manifests differently as well.

      Also a lot of bisexual men have or at one time in their life did identify as gay, sometimes for years or decades before discovering that they’re bisexual. There’s nothing wrong with being a bisexual man even if b igots want to pretend that there is and pretend that relationships between bisexual men and gay men don’t work so they use this as an excuse to be nothing but a b igot.

      Apr 3, 2012 at 12:14 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • OtherGonzo
      OtherGonzo

      @JupiterThunder: I think you need to reread the synopsis. “John takes a break from his longtime boyfriend”, would it be more or less painful to the longtime boyfriend if John then slept with another man?
      It’s possible for gay men to cheat, indeed I’ve known more gay cheaters than Bi ones. But that’s just my experience.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:13 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Bill
      Bill

      Cock is a regressive and stupid play with one-dimensional characters and a rather offensive plot.

      Also, there are many men who identify as bi and then come out as gay. This business about men being gay and then suddenly realizing they’re attracted to women is a myth. Why wouldn’t they have realized it all along, as we are inundated with heterosexuality practically from birth? It’s much more likely an “ex-gay,” internalized homophobia type of thing, as others here have noted.

      And I’m sick of hearing about how gays are supposedly “biphobic” when men who identify as bi are often homophobic, not to mention self-hating homos — but I guess it’s not politically correct to talk about that.

      “Cock” has been published. Get a copy from the library if you must read it and save your money. It’s not very good and it is kind of homophobic.

      Jun 18, 2012 at 3:40 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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