Writer: Enda Walsh
Director: Cathal Cleary
Reviewer: David Jobson
Enda Walsh, a prolific Irish playwright, is well known for helping to adapt the film Once into a musical. His plays, though, verge towards absurdist comedy, and it is no different with this revival of one of his earliest works, Disco Pigs. Still, it’s a play worth reviving to explore today’s mental health issues among the younger generations.
Entering the theatre we encounter two young adults, brother and sister, both displaying the maturity of a five-year-old. Like pigs they snort and indulge in their childhood behaviours and fantasies. It is arrested development taken to the extreme.
They begin by telling the story of their birth, with dolls, at the Cork City maternity hospital, relating how a bond was created as they look at each other from their cribs. With this bond, they create a whole new world for themselves.
They created their own language. The City of Cork is renamed Pork. The brother calls himself Pig, the sister, Runt. Together they rule this world from the comfort of their bedroom that Chloe Lamford’s set comprises
Fast forward 17 years and they are still living their childhood fantasies to the excess. They love to go the local disco palace, gorge their food like pigs, and drink heavily. The adult world represented by two mannequins they like to rip apart is looked upon with disdain.
Disco Pigs is an odd play. For the first 30 minutes, there is no character development as these two mess around like kids (obviously). As a result, it’s difficultto connect with these two characters.Undoubtedly the energy from Ciaran Owens and Amy Molloy carries the production. The frenetic speed they employ is apt for playing wild, oversized children, which is fun to watch. The problem is that with a script that only occasionally slows down everything goes by in a blur.In addition, to an ear untrained for the Irish accent, it can be a challenge to understand what this hyperactive pair are talking about.
However, as they are nearing adulthood reality starts to seep in. Amy Molloy aptly portrays Runt’s delayed maturity, confused and longing for what she has missed out. What’s more, she has to cope with Owens’ hopeless and at times violent Pig with his increasing sexual advances.
In an age where youngsters are struggling to find a place in the real world, it’s apt that Enda Walsh’s play should be revived. It does take a while to get into the meat of the story and how audiences will receive this depends on how they respond to the pair, especially with the Irish accents.
Still, this is a fun and energetic play under Cathal Cleary’s direction, that doesn’t outstay its welcome at just over an hour. What is more it shines a light, if perhaps to an extreme extent, on the mental health issues facing youth today.
Running until 15 October 2016 | Image: Richard Davenport