Thursday, 20 July 2017

Theatre review: Disco Pigs

I almost skipped the 20th anniversary production of Disco Pigs because I felt like I’d seen a version at the Young Vic quite recently; as it turns out that production was actually six years ago and besides, casting a Harry Potter actor I hadn’t “collected” on stage before is always a good way of making me stump up for a ticket. Enda Walsh’s two-hander uses a mixture of strong Cork accents and dialect with a convoluted, poetic style of speech that channels Joyce, Beckett and A Clockwork Orange to tell a story of two teenagers, Darren aka Pig (Colin Campbell) and Sinead aka Runt (Evanna Lynch,) who were born a second apart in the same hospital. Ever since being placed on adjacent tables they’ve been closer than real siblings, to the point in fact of isolating themselves from their families, speaking in their own language and dealing with the outside world mainly with violence.

The majority of the story takes place as the pair turn seventeen and the dominant, hyperactive Pig realises he’s attracted to Runt and is willing to bulldoze his way through anyone for her; but she’s got other ideas.

The play opens with the characters describing their own births, and John Haidar’s production makes this very literal, Campbell and Lynch squeezing their heads through the back wall to make their entrance. It’s a funny and original opening to a colourful production –the costumes and Elliot Griggs’ lighting do most of the work in making this a Technicolor 75 minutes as Richard Kent’s set is an almost-bare one, only a pulsing TV in the corner, leaving a lot of room for the duo to throw themselves around the set. Which they do, Campbell in particular seems to be constantly moving as the louder of the pair, while Lynch is stiller, a glee in their misbehaviour mixed with her increasing realisation that she wants something outside of their closed world.

Because Disco Pigs is about this relationship slowly coming apart while only one of them realises it – Pig’s focus only on his own feelings is made most literal when he serenades Runt with karaoke, oblivious to the fact that she’s being beaten up somewhere else in the pub. And this is where I thought Haidar’s production fell short: There’s been a lot of focus on the energy and unpredictability of the performances, and not a lot on the emotion underneath it, leaving me unmoved by Pig and Runt as people. The violence is also lacking edge, a bit too much attention paid to how much Pig is enjoying being intimidating, and not enough to how vicious his actions actually get. It all makes for a production that captures the explosiveness in Walsh’s text and showcases the lyricism of his strange dialogue well, but doesn’t explore the heart underneath the flashiness.

Disco Pigs by Enda Walsh is booking until the 19th of August at Trafalgar Studio 2.

Running time: 1 hour 20 minutes straight through.

Photo credit: Alex Brenner.

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