Other Arts:Theatre

Clarence in the Tower
(From Richard III

The Cock Machine, a play by Ross MacLean
Theater for the New City, until February 17
Reviewed by Bill Kushner

Act 1. SCENE IV. London. The Tower.


Why looks your grace so heavily today?

O, I have pass'd a miserable night,
So full of ugly sights, of ghastly dreams,
That, as I am a Christian faithful man,
I would not spend another such a night,
Though 'twere to buy a world of happy days,
So full of dismal terror was the time!

What was your dream? I long to hear you tell it.

Methoughts that I had broken from the Tower,
And was embark'd to cross to Burgundy;
And, in my company, my brother Gloucester;
Who from my cabin tempted me to walk
Upon the hatches: thence we looked toward England,
And cited up a thousand fearful times,
During the wars of York and Lancaster
That had befall'n us. As we paced along
Upon the giddy footing of the hatches,
Methought that Gloucester stumbled; and, in falling,
Struck me, that thought to stay him, overboard,
Into the tumbling billows of the main.
Lord, Lord! methought, what pain it was to drown!
What dreadful noise of waters in mine ears!
What ugly sights of death within mine eyes!
Methought I saw a thousand fearful wrecks;
Ten thousand men that fishes gnaw'd upon;
Wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearl,
Inestimable stones, unvalued jewels,
All scatter'd in the bottom of the sea:
Some lay in dead men's skulls; and, in those holes
Where eyes did once inhabit, there were crept,
As 'twere in scorn of eyes, reflecting gems,
Which woo'd the slimy bottom of the deep,
And mock'd the dead bones that lay scatter'd by.

Had you such leisure in the time of death
To gaze upon the secrets of the deep?

Methought I had; and often did I strive
To yield the ghost: but still the envious flood
Kept in my soul, and would not let it forth
To seek the empty, vast and wandering air;
But smother'd it within my panting bulk,
Which almost burst to belch it in the sea.

Awaked you not with this sore agony?

O, no, my dream was lengthen'd after life;
O, then began the tempest to my soul,
Who pass'd, methought, the melancholy flood,
With that grim ferryman which poets write of,
Unto the kingdom of perpetual night.
The first that there did greet my stranger soul,
Was my great father-in-law, renowned Warwick;
Who cried aloud, 'What scourge for perjury
Can this dark monarchy afford false Clarence?'
And so he vanish'd: then came wandering by
A shadow like an angel, with bright hair
Dabbled in blood; and he squeak'd out aloud,
'Clarence is come; false, fleeting, perjured Clarence,
That stabb'd me in the field by Tewksbury;
Seize on him, Furies, take him to your torments!'
With that, methoughts, a legion of foul fiends
Environ'd me about, and howled in mine ears
Such hideous cries, that with the very noise
I trembling waked, and for a season after
Could not believe but that I was in hell,
Such terrible impression made the dream.

No marvel, my lord, though it affrighted you;
I promise, I am afraid to hear you tell it.

O Brakenbury, I have done those things,
Which now bear evidence against my soul,
For Edward's sake; and see how he requites me!
O God! if my deep prayers cannot appease thee,
But thou wilt be avenged on my misdeeds,
Yet execute thy wrath in me alone,
O, spare my guiltless wife and my poor children!
I pray thee, gentle keeper, stay by me;
My soul is heavy, and I fain would sleep.

(From Richard III (Wm. Shakespeare).)

~ . ~

The Cock Machine
Playwright: Ross MacLean
Theater for the New City, through February 17
Reviewed by Bill Kushner

A lot of laughs are to be had by tip-toeing over the tulips to see this sexy and irreverent play! The plot revolves around the inventor of the "cock machine," guaranteed to enlarge the size of a penis from teeny to giant to gigantic. The inventor, called 'The Professor,' is played by actor William Modean, who possesses the comedic talents of a young Zero Mostel, combined with a young Jackie Gleason. We follow Modean around as he tries to get permits from, firstly, the patent bureau, and then from various city officials, such as the mayor.

Of course, all the men involved at first claim to be more than enough in the, ahem, size department. One cop, well-played by Johnny Blaze Leavitt, declares himself to possess, "Why, four and a half inches of proud Irish manhood!"

Of course, all the sex-starved wives and lovers of the resistant men eventually put an end to all the prudery and resistance, and soon the cock machine is a big hit. But not until I and the rest of the audience had a highly hysterical fun time.

The Cock Machine is reminiscent of some of the stuff that Charles Ludlam's Theater of the Ridiculous was doing for years, holding up the mask of satire before a pompous world. Congrats to author Ross MacLean. It is good to see that tradition continue.

So many fine actors in this, especially The Woman Who Wants a Happy Life, played by Johanna Buccola, Bobbie Owens as a horny minister's daughter named Delilah, Allison Tilsen as gorgeous Jacqueline, "A Wonderful Lady," and handsome Kila Packett, who plays Joe Herculese, a Fitness Expert. These, and especially the comic William Modean, are all stars in the making. Oh, and there's the cutest Baby Seal, played to the hilt by Danielle Montezinos with the squeakiest voice! Yes, a good time was had by all.

Show runs until February 17 [extended to Feb 24] at the Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave at 10th St. Tickets are $10. (212) 254-1109.