Disco Pigs

PillowTalk Theatre Company presents 'Disco Pigs' by Enda Walsh.

PillowTalk Theatre Company presents 'Disco Pigs' by Enda Walsh.

Pig and Runt are born into mediocrity, moments apart in 'Pork' City. Cocooning themselves against the averageness of the everyday, their babified almost animalistic talk imbues them with a sense of being apart, of escaping the ordinary and humdrum, the threat that they are just more flies buzzing around the dung hole that is “the real capital”. But real life has begun to reveal itself, and as Runt starts to take those first tender steps towards spreading her wings, Pig desperately tries to clip them.

The ferocity of potential, the murder of feeling, the wild careening off track that can occur when youth is awoken to the realities of life, are all violently and vivaciously strewn throughout Walsh's text where Bonnie and Clyde meet Lord of the Flies, poetry and profanity preening out of the bogboy speech in hues that captivate our senses.

Like all good revivals, PillowTalk’s take on this late '90s two-hander, which ran as part of the '10 Days in Dublin' festival, avoided the trappings of time and place to speak of something more universal. The production was drenched in foreboding and fury and, as the world of comfort that Pig and Runt had feathered with their mutual delusion collapsed, it was hard to avoid the prescient condemnation of the Irish people contained within Walsh’s work.

Fionn Walton and Gemma-Leah Devereux spewed onto the stage as Pig and Runt, a verbal avalanche greased by spit, sweat and psychotic intensity. The gurgling sexuality, prickling dissatisfaction and indomitable disdain filled the too big space with a rush that dragged us into the characters’ bubble, swirling us around on Walsh’s abrasive tongue. As they tore through the pubs and clubs, takeaways and taxi rides that made up their personal fiefdom, their fatalistic fury lit up the stage with clarity, the result of a creative team that were on the same page when it came to the characters’ make up and what the playwright was trying to express through them.

Director Rosemary McKenna tried to compensate for the wide open plan of Smock Alley’s main space, having her cast run around it and strewing tyres, tellies, trolleys and kegs around the stage. The characters were compassionately and thoroughly drawn. Yet the sheer propulsion needed by her inexperienced cast to fill the venue meant that they could be overextended, so the disintegration of their fantasy wasn’t felt as searingly as its realisation. A smaller space would have allowed them to conserve their energy and focus on the pace so that the stop-start nature of life – those sudden, startling moments where clarity and desire strike the characters dead – could be imparted in a less breathy, more contained manner. Still, there were some beautiful moments that added tragic force to the play’s explosive ending: Pig’s longing and lust-filled monologue about his growing attraction to Runt, or the loaded, awkward silence after their first kiss.

A lot has been said about the health of the traditionally scripted play in this country - which is not a condemnation of the often brilliant devised work that has taken up the mantle. But if the lavish critical and commercial successes of Landmark's Howie the Rookie and Druid's Whistle in the Dark are anything to go by, audiences and critics alike are open and hungry for work where playwrights don’t substitute issues for character, where the tale told isn’t so specifically derived from the performers’ own exact experiences, or where language strikes us dumb by pulling us into a world without stressing its artifice.

Pillowtalk’s production put the human experience at the heart of this tale, through strong performances and focussed direction, that highlighted the power of storytelling to speak of what ills us as a society without explicitly draping itself in its issues.

Caomhan Keane is the senior theatre writer at entertainment.ie and has also written about theatre for The Irish Times and the Sunday Independent.

  • Review
  • Theatre

Disco Pigs by Enda Walsh

8 - 13 July 2013

Produced by PillowTalk Theatre Co
In Smock Alley Theatre

Directed by Rosemary McKenna

Dramaturg: James Hickson

Lighting Design: Maggie Donovan

Sound Design: Osgar Dukes

With: Fionn Walton and Gemma-Leah Devereux


Presented as part of the 2013 '10 Days in Dublin' festival.