Cock, cheesecake and complications from the Red Turnip

Is it really that hard to choose between a man and a woman? What does the cock say?

In Red Turnip Theater’s adaptation of the Olivier Award-winning play, Cock, John (played by Topper Fabregas) is torn between his gay lover M (Niccolo Manahan) and new girlfriend W (Jenny Jamora). To make things more complicated, M’s father F (Audie Gemora) tries to help John recognize his (sexual) identity as he runs to his son’s defense.

The climax, so to speak, happens over dinner. That dinner scene, that mother-of-all-awkwardness sequence, is an absolute mindfuck in as much as it is hilarious. It forces you to choose between heterosexual attraction and homosexual relationship. It makes you wonder if there is really such a thing as bisexuality, or is it just bi-curiosity gone wrong. It tests your morals. It makes you want to shout at John and say, “For your cock’s sake, choose already!” John keeps you hanging whether he’s gay or straight, although it is clear, to me at least, that he is as gay as your closet professor in college. Anyhow…

And then the cheesecake happens. M, after taking defeat straight in the face, makes a final attempt to get John back by offering the cheesecake he had desperately (read: lovingly) prepared for dessert. M knew that by offering John his favorite dessert, something deep inside will be reignited – as if that cheesecake holds the mystical ingredient that will make John choose between a guy and a girl.

We all have that cheesecake in our relationships, whether romantic, familial or platonic. It’s the one that binds us with our loved ones. It’s also what we use for emotional blackmail in case our special someone has a “change of heart”. It’s the only investment we make in our relationships from which we do not, ideally, expect any ROI. Love, after all, is a risk that we must take one way or another. It’s emotional, psychological, sometimes even spiritual. Depends on how crazily deep our plunge takes us.

So when that blasted cheesecake came into the picture, it casts out M’s desperation and John’s vulnerability. Suddenly, it reminds them of what they have as a couple. That something special, no matter how cheesy, that has them loving every moment they have with each other. That taste in the mouth that makes them want more.

At this point in the play, my friend leans over to me and whispers, “parang gusto ko tuloy ng cheesecake.”

If you need a definition for that cryptic Facebook status “it’s complicated”, this play says it all. The inner turmoil that John found himself into is easily relatable for those who are torn between two loves, whether they are in a heterosexual or homosexual relationship. Topper is not only convincing as John – he is enviably marvelous for courageously taking on a role that any lesser actor could have easily ruined. His “sex scene” with Jenny is a breakthrough in Philippine theater. It was tastefully libidinous that even the most conservative audience will not take offense.

Rem Zamora and his fantastic cast of four did a salaciously terrific job in sending Cock our way. For a first directorial job, I swear Zamora had this one flying out of the park and crashing straight into glass windows of the uninitiated mind. No props. No sets. No special effects. Just four people giving life to Mike Bartlett’s sharp script.

So, is it really that difficult to determine if you’re gay or straight when you have already tasted the best of both worlds? I say, follow the Cock and decide for yourself; that is, if this poignant play will give in to more requests of a third rerun. Bravo, Red Turnip Theater!

 

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