Writer: Ultan Pringle
Director: Ultan Pringle
Although only an hour long Ultan Pringle’s Piglet is very much a tale of two halves, or perhaps better, a story with two sides. This irreverent two hander could be described as a deep dive into a breakdown brought on by heartbreak, but it turns out to be quite a bit more complex than that.
The play opens with Laura Hartin as Mercy already on stage, decked out by Toni Bailey in a voluptuous tutu, oversized sunglasses, and a kerchief around her face. Jack Scott Shanley’s stage is well thought out in its simplicity, the focus stays with Mercy as she brings us through the background of her breakdown, sorry “visitation”, and elicits hearty laughter with her spot on Jennifer Coolidge impressions. Although Hartin herself is a fantastic presence on the stage, delivering her lengthy monologue with aplomb and hitting the comedic notes hard and fast, there’s a lot brought to this production by the lighting (Owen Clarke) and sound (HK Ní Shioradáin); clever sound effects mirror Hartin’s spiralling descriptions of the inner workings of her brain, and changing hues and intensities of the spotlight are extremely effective in heightening the emotions that Hartin draws from the script. The first half of the play is all Hartin all the time, dancing into insanity, arguing with her mother through that Jennifer Coolidge impression, eliciting strong sympathy from those watching her – a woman on the brink, pushed to the edge by a broken heart and a missing support system, one can’t help but root for her.
Though there is no actual break, there is a clear distinction in the middle of the play. As Mercy packs away her costume and transforms into a drabber version of herself the soundscape escalates the feeling of claustrophobic madness. Then suddenly the second half of the cast appears through the door with Sophie Lenglinger as Gemma, the breaker of Mercy’s heart. They say that there are three sides to any failed love story; hers, hers, and the truth. Certainly this feels achingly true in Piglet, as Gemma’s confrontation with Mercy unravels a very conflicting story to the one told when there was only Mercy on the stage. Lenglinger and Hartin are believable as two people who have devastated each other in different ways, and there is a weighty tension between them. Hartin shows a completely new side to Mercy in this exchange and it is just as nuanced as the first one, it’s a very well layered performance overall.
There’s plenty to recommend about this production from LemonSoap. Pringle’s writing is smart and funny and sad and believable; the acting, particularly from Hartin, is raw and emotional and full of snappy delivery; the lighting and sound elevate it all. Considering the price and the length it would be crying shame to miss it. All that’s left to do is wonder – what’s next for all these talented people?
Runs until 22nd April 2023.