Review of “Cock, Cock…Who’s There?” a performance by Samira Elagoz at Fringe Festival

Samira Elagoz was raped by a boyfriend some years ago. That makes her one of over one billion women who have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner, as estimated by the World Health Organization.

There are many reasons women don’t report most rapes: fear of not being believed, fear of being blamed, various social stigmas.

R. Buckminster Fuller, a global thinker from way back in the pre-internet era, said: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

And that is what Ms. Elagoz has done in “Cock, Cock…Who’s There?” Further, she realizes and shows that rape is a dual attack on (1) a woman physically and (2) a woman’s right to enjoy her own female sexuality.

She walks onstage to discuss her rape and her decision to explore dating human males again, not, I think, as therapy, but more in the sense of re-learning how to ride a horse when you’ve had an absolutely rotten horse experience.

As such, Ms. Elagoz shares a new response model for women dealing with the worst in males. She punctuates her personal and intimate observations on stage with videos showing her interacting with different men as she explores the dating world. There’s a subtle comedy in the self-unaware ways men may behave when trying to impress females of the species; some males may be forever cured of that desire. The mirror held up reflects both genders.

Ms. Elagoz, as director and central focus of a documentary performance, manages to tell an intimate personal story, repeated in too many other lives, dispassionately. And as a director of a story in her own life, she also shows women (and men, from a different point of view) a new way to deal personally with a dark issue. Maybe it’s the perverse liberation also found in this early lyric by Bob Dylan: “When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose.”

Some in the audience may, as they watch the performance, be thinking “How can she, after……?” It’s possible that question will evolve into “Why shouldn’t she…….?” I imagine Ms. Elagoz hopes for exactly that. It’s not an altogether comfortable presentation. But whatever discomfort one might feel in dealing with these visceral events pales in comparison with what the central character must feel, under Ms. Elagoz’s direction.

The film closes with a series of shots of Ms. Elagoz staring (glaring?) at the camera, among other things. She doesn’t speak; maybe she’s thinking: damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead…and you can, too.