Luke Devenish


A Peculiar Melodrama

19th century life has lately smiled upon Dickie Fullhand, a cocky young man with a dodgy heart, who has chanced himself the job of tutor at Throttlesnake Hall. All seems set for an upward rise until the awkward past catches up with him.

A desperate act of denial leads Dickie to a rapid unraveling as he seeks to distance himself from all that he’s done to get where he is, and all that he’s doing to stay there.

Dickie's doom, when it comes, is a tragedy — for he who is blessed with a marketable charm, and for those who are happy to pay for it.

This is a new comedy and is yet to be performed. It is one of a series of 'perverse repurposings' of forgotten works or forms, whereby new characters, dialogue, situations, genders, sexualities, ages and dis/abilities are laid over the top of old in order for surprising outcomes to emerge within otherwise familiar dramatic scenarios. 

Cocky is a shotgun wedding between two highly unlikely parents: the Victorian problem play of the woman with a past, and Brent Corrigan porn movies. The offspring is a very pretty bastard indeed, residing in an alternate universe where men, not women, are the hapless unfortunates for whom we are encouraged to feel empathy while at the same time condemning to the flames.

In Cocky, the problem and the past are those of a young man, and 19th century gender conventions are reversed. Women hold much of the power in Cocky, as well as the purse-strings and the right to express umbrage at moral transgressions. Men eke out lives as decorative playthings seeking fortuitous marriages, or failing that, domestic drudgery. The result is a familiar Victorian scenario dealing with a less familiar, but no less keenly felt, repression.

Cocky’s hero, Dickie, employs a language that both highlights and obfuscates meaning. He is simultaneously exultant and clandestine about who and what he really is. His language is infectious, picked up and tossed about by those who share the stage with him; playful and amusing to some, frustrating and bewildering to others. In the end it’s discarded, when mounting crises and undeniable truths make anything other than plain talk impossible.