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PRETENDING THINGS ARE A COCK @ The Little Palais at The Pleasure Garden gets 5/10


Pretending Things are a Cock
@ The Little Palais at The Pleasure Garden

Sunday, January 23, 2022

5/10

Pretending Things are a Cock has been a long-standing fan favourite of the Perth Fringe Festival, as well as many other festivals around the world, but its return in 2022 comes with a twist – the show is now presented by a woman, Fringe debutant, Millie Norrish. After a drunken discussion of friendship, equity and love between Norrish and the show’s creator, Jon Bennett, the cock-baton was handed to Norrish who promised to bring a dash of feminism and fun to proceedings.

For people who have seen PTAAC before, the genius of the show lied in its gaslighting. While the show is supposedly a puerile joke, and the show did grant plenty of time to Bennett’s slides of him pretending things are a cock all around the globe, in actuality, the slides served as interludes for Bennett to entertain you with his take on life. The slides provide context into Bennett’s character and help to frame his stories, depicting him as immature yet good-natured. Bennett’s approach was one of humility and gentle humour, the whole cock thing was simply a quirky motif that tied his stories together.

With Norrish at the helm of PTAAC there is, unfortunately, a disconnect. While Norrish is a vibrant and funny talent in her own right, her use of the slides in the show, (the same slides that Bennet used but with Millie’s face intentionally badly photoshopped over Jon’s), leads one to wonder; is this a show about Jon, or is it about Millie? To try to make the original show work while personalising it to herself means that Millie has to tell us a lot about her friend Jon, but he’s not in the show. And then she tells us about herself, she has to frame it in the context of pictures of her friend pretending things are a cock around the world. The result is jarring.

This result is a shame, as Norrish is a fantastic performer with great wit and energy. Her comedic timing was spot on and engagement with the audience was remarkable, especially given she was a debutant at a Fringe. The show really shone when Millie brought the spotlight on to herself; particularly in her narratives about her trials and tribulations of leaving home. But her return to the show’s overarching theme, to a character that was not present, made the show muddled.

Ultimately the show is hampered by trying to fit to a pre-existing format. But with such a talent as Norrish, it won’t be long before she finds her own thing to Pretend in.

MICHAEL HOLLICK

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