FringeReview UK 2015
Darren and Sinead (aka Pig and Runt) are born seconds apart in Cork, Ireland; they live next door to each other, and spent all of their childhood together. Excessive booze, drugs, trash television and wild disco beats fuse together Pig and Runt’s fantasy world in which their friendship has become obsessive. Pig soon starts to develop feelings for Runt and as they go for their 17th birthday binge, jealousy savagely destructs their lifelong friendship.
This remounting of Enda Walsh’s production of Disco Pigs is the brainchild of House – a producing company who is helping theatre companies mount work in the venues of the South East. This is why we have the slightly unusual phenomenon of a mid-scale touring production of a well-known play, which is an interesting diversion from the usual fare of devised and new writing shows.
Walsh’s writing is characterised by the heavy Irish dialect his characters speak, full of slang and nicknames, and highly poetic in style. It can be quite hard to tune into, and as an audience member you certainly miss out on some of the words, but it also helps to give the play a high energy, and helps set it firmly in a time and a place.
Disco Pigs is about two teenagers on the night of their seventeenth birthday. They have known each other from birth – born minutes apart to poor mothers in a Cork hospital. Growing up as intertwined as twins, they have their own language of communication, and even their nicknames – Pig and Runt, imply that they hail from the same litter.
The pair are portrayed at an interesting stage of life – balanced as they are on the precipice between childhood and becoming an adult. This is nicely conveyed in the performance, as the character’s childish enthusiasm and physicality nudges up against a burgeoning sexual desire on the part of Pig, and the dangerous development of brute strength and a desire to drink.
The company take on the play with energy and skill, directed by Cathal Cleary you can see the growing tensions between the two youngsters; Runt still seeing Pig as her brother, best friend and playmate, Pig longing for sex and plagued with lust for the person who is transforming before her eyes. Nowhere was this summed up more poignantly than the monologue delivered touchingly by Pig, played by Ciaran Owens This was well performed, and was a welcome break from the slightly relentless pace of the rest of the show.
The set of the show, designed by Chloe Lamford was a ramshackle affair, with living room, bar, kitchen and nightclubs all represented in different areas. It looked messy, and was hard to focus on, yet in some ways it worked as the characters were able to get whatever they needed to create their scenes and changing locations from the set, which almost became a character in itself. However, it was overall an odd design for a piece of touring theatre, as it had at the front what almost looked like a big gibbet, which framed the stage, but also blocked out sightlines for audience members at the sides. This seemed to me to be an entirely unnecessary element, as it was only used at the start of the show to hang a sign saying ‘Disco Pigs’ on it, and we all knew what we were there to see!
The play did not blow me away, but it was enjoyable, well performed and skilfully directed, with some nice touches such as shop dummies being used as stand ins for the other characters. It is nice to have the opportunity to see modern classic texts toured outside of London, and the presence of several groups of teenage drama students at the play was testament to this.