Saturday, August 20, 2011
Pardon the pun, but The Cockwhisperer -- A Love Story has a happy ending.
Colette Kendall (Tippi Seagram’s Happy Hour, Who’s Afraid of Tippi Seagram?) embarks on a new style of theatre in her Bildungsroman from her repressed 12-year-old self finding prophylactics in her parents room to a stellar Canadian history buff teenager itching for sex to a having a loving, healthy relationship with the male appendage.
The masterful storyteller brings a laugh a line from the get go, until she masters a dramatic mood change. Tales of her dysfunctional marriage are easy to laugh along with until she decides to be serious. Then you feel you've been punched in the face. Yet hers is a story too many can relate to -- losing yourself for the sake of making a relationship work.
Her storytelling is self-deprecating, honest, painful and hilarious all over the course of the hour.
Whether she's lampooning sex-ed classes in the 1970s, or jumping back into her 15-year-old skin and doing the Hustle she's fearless in the delivery of her monologue. She explains to the younger festival-goers in the crowd that her discovery of sex pre-dated the Internet. Her sources of information were health class and schoolyard rumour.
She knows how to play to an audience, shining a light on the people watching and takes a walk through the theatre.
Penises are a popular topic at the Fringe, but this story is much more about the discovery of her own sexuality and emotional well-being.
In spite of the traumatic journey that lead her to the point, she has a good grip on her subject even if this work is a departure from her usual performance, although she keeps to her "no minors" subject matter.
Oh, and the X on her program she's left to dispose of your gum gets a whole lot funnier in the middle of the show.
Let us cross our fingers and briefly adjust the rules for what is printable in newspapers, for this play is hardly about roosters. “The penis,” Colette Kendall notes, “is notorious for being bad-mannered around the female visage.” She then pokes and rolls a rubber substitute about her face in ways hilarious and haunting.
The Cockwhisperer is a sort of inverse Vagina Monologues, down to moments of extreme seriousness which handsome Kendall is wise enough to poke fun of immediately. “Who here loves cock?” she yells cheerfully, then adds how her mother would be so proud of her right now. Ha!
The play is in the form of a three-relationship testimonial, which Kendall freely admits she invented...Her nostalgia becomes strangely universal, mixing the ’70s and ’80s, and there is no cheaper way to see a pretty 48-year-old grunting and grabbing her crotch in feigned heat this side of the river. We can practically smell her convincing ache... And all this she manages with wit and without tabloid tackiness.
The saucily titled The Cockwhisperer-A Love story from Colette Kendall who bares all her insecurities and experiences in her search for love and other things. It always amazes me how an artist can get up on stage and bare his or her soul and Colette does that in spades. Very Funny, Very Moving.
“You guys laughed too much,” complained Colette Kendall, after the applause had died down. The audience’s boisterous hoots and snorts made Kendall’s show run into overtime, forcing her to rush through the poignant moral of the otherwise saucily timed cock-tale. Though it starts as a series of dick-in-mouth witticisms, it promptly develops into a women’s quest to navigate relationships via the penis. She quickly learned as a young girl that “sexual knowledge and virtue was going to be a slippery slope.” It’s a slope that eventually leads to an unexpectedly dark place that shakes the audience to silence. Both funny and striking, among the dick jokes, The Cockwhisperer is truly a story about what it means to love.