First time at The Cock

Kilburn’s Cock Theatre – fresh from its victory at the Olivier Awards – is currently staging back-to-back Tennessee Williams plays as part of the centenary celebrations of his birth. As a bit of a fan of TW (due in no small part to the smouldering tension between Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof – one of the more inspiring A-Level English texts we did), I thought this was the perfect opportunity to visit this pub theatre for the first time to see I Never Get Dressed ’til After Dark on Sundays.

The play came to a close a couple of nights later, so I’m not planning to review it here (although if I was, I’d be saying it was a good production of one of Tennessee’s weaker works (it was unpublished in his lifetime)). I’m more just saying that it’s a great small theatre and its reputation is already so strong that you need to grab tickets fast when they come out. It seats only about 50 people (although some turned out to be cast members).

What at first amused me, and then slightly depressed me, was that as people arrived – many clearly not regulars in Kilburn – they rather huddled by the door looking a bit terrified of the locals rather than just heading over to the bar (which gives discounts once you wave your programme around) and saying hello. Perhaps the locals don’t look that welcoming, but within… ooh… five seconds of ordering, my neighbour Seán had introduced himself, shaken my hand at least twice, and told me not to mind him, he was just a drunk Irishman. Which he was. But a very friendly and harmless one.

So if you do head down to the Cock Theatre, please try and spend some money in the Cock Tavern as well and don’t create a rather frosty divide between “theatregoers” and “pub dwellers”. From my experience of living in Dublin for a bit, some of the most unlikely looking people in pubs are far more fluent in Beckett and Joyce, than many so-called fans of the theatre are in Shakespeare or Pinter.

  • Interesting – I AM a local in Kilburn, although I don't often go to The Cock Tavern (not much of a pub-goer), but of course I went to LA BOHEME, which I loved…and the way it was staged made it look as if Marcello and Musetta were local people coming in off the street, so not everyone cottoned on at once that they were performers, not part of the audience!

  • Anonymous

    Let's hope the theatre goers didn't visit the bogs then!