See award-winning COCK – you won’t regret it

REVIEW

Cock by Mike Bartlett

Minerva Theatre, Chichester

Mike Bartlett is a master of dialogue, especially in triangular relationships where visceral emotions surface. Anyone knows that if they became immersed in the recent BBC TV series Dr Foster. This revival of his earlier award-winning play Cock, first produced at the Royal Court in 2009, lights up Chichester’s Minerva stage with coruscating brilliance.

On a bare stage, with no props, scenery, or furniture, John and his seven-year boyfriend quickly introduce us to their strong gay relationship, which has become strained. John insists to his partner that he loves everything about him and living with him, but he feels put down and unable to express himself.

Matthew Needham and Luke Thallon in COCK by Mike Bartlett at Chichester Festival Theatre. Photo by The Other Richard

Soon we learn that John has met a woman, they have had sex, he has fallen for her, and wants to leave M (that is his partner’s name in the programme, where only John is named). He says that he and the woman have met on the street regularly on the way to work, and, in time, one thing led to another. Before long, however, John wants to come back to M.

The play then recalls John’s meeting and rapture with the woman (known as W), who has become single after a broken relationship and effectively seduces him with her feminine wiles. The account of their sexual fulfillment is cleverly told in words and body language without any physical engagement.

Thus John has a dilemma. He loves both his partners in different ways, but is indecisive and cannot choose between them. A dinner party is arranged between the three of them, and this is just as fraught as the one in the first series of Dr Foster. John promises to announce his decision over the pudding. The inevitable early awkwardness at the beginning of the dinner party is interrupted by the arrival of M’s widowed father (F), who has been secretly invited. The intricate dance between the trio becomes a convoluted quartet.

The father insists that John makes his son happy, has been gay for many years since coming out at university, and needs to stay in his established gay relationship. The woman retorts that John is the only man for her, and he admits that he has felt more liberated as a person with her and enjoyed heterosexual sex more. Asked by the others to decide who he is, John is torn asunder and cannot make up his mind. While there is a sort of resolution, you are left unsure whether he has made the right choice, or even made a final decision at all.

Mike Bartlett says that Cock is as much about love as about sex. And, language warning – the theatre is blue with four letter words for most of the evening, a 90-minute one-piece staging of the play. Relationships and communication are all-important in Cock. The problem for John and his two partners is not even gender specific. The questions are: whether to stay with his difficult and overbearing partner who does not allow him to grow up and truly find his identity, but he knows and loves; or whether he should take the risk of moving into new sexual territory, which is unfamiliar but where he may just have a chance of finding himself. This is gripping stuff, beautifully played by Luke Thallon (John), Matthew Needham, Isabella Laughland and Simon Chandler (the father); and tightly directed by Kate Hewittt (named in 2017 as one of Variety’s ’10 Brits to Watch’).

This production of Mike Bartlett’s marvelous play is certainly well worth watching, and you can see it until October 27.

www.cft.org.uk

Nick Keith

Hares set to make huge sum for Haslemere charities

After a summer of seeing giant decorated hares all over the town, Haslemere held its grand auction of the resin sculptures, with a glittering reception.

The Grand Finale Auction was a huge success, the auction lots alone raising £15,000, with ticket and merchandise sales still to be finalised.
Thanks to the generosity of both Lythe Hill Hotel and Aspinal of London, every penny of the ticket revenue is going to Stepping Stones School and Christophers Chase Shooting Star Hospice.
This is in addition to the online auction which raised £7,670.

Blue Hare, decorated by Ziggy J Simon for Blue Hairdressing in Grayshott, raising money for Pancreatic Cancer Action. Photo by Kerry Jordan, @FurandFables

Haslemere Hares are a part of a community arts project to raise funds and awareness for a variety of local and national charities.

See www.haslemerehares.co.uk to find out more.

Inventors – your chance to win £31,000 of help from Petersfield company!

Could you do with £31,000 of expert help to get your invention to market? The Morgan Innovation Prize 2019 is open for entries.

The judges are searching for innovators who believe their ideas will have a positive global impact by dramatically improving lives.

The prize is run by Morgan Innovation and Technology, an inventions company based in Petersfield, with 31 years of experience in designing, developing and manufacturing brilliant ideas.

The winner will receive research and development (R&D), production and marketing help to the value of £31,000 from Morgan IAT’s specialist team.

“We know from our own experiences that practical help and support can often be more valuable to an early-stage inventor than cash, so we decided the prize should be made up of R&D and manufacturing services to ensure we deliver a tangible benefit to the winner,” said CEO Nigel Clarke.

Morgan IAT has a real passion for innovation and a strong desire to be an enabler in bridging the gap between inventors having a great idea and being able to bring it to market.

The Morgan IAT Prize was launched in 2017/18 to celebrate Morgan IAT’s 30th anniversary and received 87 fantastic entries.

Last year’s winner Arslan Khalid is currently working with the team on his life-changing invention to detect disease by using a smartphone to profile a single droplet of blood.

Jon Bentley of the Gadget Show will be returning as a judge for the MIAT Prize 2019, along with business experts from Santander, solicitors Moore Blatch, Menzies accountants and East Hampshire District Council. Morgan IAT chairman Sue Clarke and Design Engineer Rajiv Linge will also be judges.

Jon said: “I’m excited to help judge an award that fosters innovation and harnesses creativity to generate ground-breaking visionary products.”

Morgan IAT invests 20% of turnover every year into helping inventors turn their ideas into reality. It has a first-class record in the medical, defence and commercial industries and won The Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade in 2011 and 2016. Its prize-winning Salurate test for pre-eclampsia is out to user trials overseas.

To enter the MIAT Prize for the chance to win £31,000 worth of R&D visit http://www.miatprize.co.uk/. Entry is free and open until November 11. The MIAT Prize will be awarded to the entry which satisfies the judging panel that it has real commercial potential to change people’s lives for the better. Entrants must be UK residents.

Synchro club really in the swim – with medals galore!

It has been another successful year for Portsmouth and District Synchronised Swimming Club which trains at three pools – Churcher’s College in Petersfield, Redwood Park Academy in Cosham, and Fleming Park Leisure Centre in Eastleigh.

The club entered four teams into the National Synchro Combo Cup at the London Aquatic Centre on July 7. The 13-15 team won silver medals in their age category for the second year running.

Picture by Allan McKenzie – Swim England Synchro Combo Cup – London Aquatics Centre, London, England – clockwise from back left: Eloise Coath, Isabella Clarke, Breanna Neill, Tia Tattersall, Marianne Shaul, Isabelle Jupe, Jasmine Pitchford and Vianne Spiller

The 15-18 team came fifth in their age category (missing out on a medal by 0.1667).

The 12 and Under team were placed 16th and the 15 and Under team were placed 14th in their age categories.

Then on September 22 it was pretty much a clean sweep of the medal table at the SE Regionals for Portsmouth and District Synchro Club. The club dominated the top 12 places in the 13-18 figures with Isabel Benson, Emily Jupe and Marianne Shaul winning the gold, silver and bronze medals respectively.

The 15-18 team won gold medals too for their routine to “That Man” by Caro Emerald.

If you would be interested in trying synchronised swimming send an email to portsmouthanddistrictsynchro@hotmail.co.uk

The club is recruiting new swimmers to start beginner sessions at Redwood Park Academy on a Saturday morning between 9.30am and 11.30am.

The 13-15 team won gold medals for their routine to “Go West”.
Clockwise from top left Emily Jupe, Megan Lee, Lauren Shaul, Isabel Benson, Hazel Lee, Lauren Philp, Saffron Finch, Abby Mitchell and Beth Birch