For a show that puts up something of a bawdy front (just check out the title), The Cockwhisperer makes very valid points about the condition of publicly-funded sex education and the need to appreciate the relationship aspect of sexual relationships as much (if not more) than the sex.
In this solo storytelling show Colette Kendall relates her history of fascination, ignorance, and curiosity regarding not just the male member, but sex in general. There are some obstacles, though: namely the complete lack of information available. With some helpful visual aids Kendall recalls how completely useless health class was with its woefully inadequate diagrams, besides the puritanical attitude of her parents. Parents may not have changed much, but as Kendall points out she was coming of age in the 1970s, when teen pregnancy and abortion rates were at their highest ever – the only two things she really knew about the practicalities of sex are 1) It’ll hurt the first time, and 2) Men like women who participate (whatever that means).
This spectre of knowledge that would have been helpful to know is a running theme throughout this show, as Kendall moves from her first boyfriend to regrettable hook-ups to an ill-fated marriage – this last part in particular gets to a fairly dark place, something unexpected with the subtle yet powerful presence Kendall brings. Her placid, smooth voice has a calming quality, which jars in a very real way when her experience with domestic abuse creeps into the narrative.
That’s not to say this show isn’t funny, because it really is. The humour is a mix of bawdy and slightly intellectual – some jokes take a little longer than others to sink in, and some you’ll get right away: “The first real, live penis I ever saw was my brother Lindsay’s – ew, I know, right? That’s a girl’s name!” Some jokes within the show seem like they’re there just to add shock value, but in those moments Kendall’s reassuring presence and her knowing smile bring you back from any doubts you feel.
There are some moments that might make the more tight-lipped shudder – there are some frank comments on female libido – but this show is really about equality, as Kendall comes to realize throughout the story that just as women are more than their genitals, so are men. The fascination with the penis merely takes the focus off the man attached to it. It reminds me of an old sexist joke that always makes me roll my eyes: “What do you call the extra bit of skin around the vagina? The woman.” The environment of ignorance that breeds such attitudes, attitudes that equate people with the status of their sexual organs, are archaic and hurt everyone regardless of their gender, identity, and/or orientation. The Cockwhisperer is funny and entertaining, but it also raises a timely point about social attitudes towards towards sex and sex education (especially with the new Ontario sex ed curriculum). Score a point for sexual empowerment and check this one out.
The Cockwhisperer: A Love Story
Written and Performed by Colette Kendall
Running Time: 60 minutes
Playing at Arts Court Theatre
Sunday June 21 1:00 pm
Monday June 22 9:00 pm
Tuesday June 23 6:00 pm
Thursday June 25 7:30 pm
Saturday June 27 7:00 pm