Revived to celebrate its 20th anniversary, Enda Walsh’s play (that has also been adapted for film) has a limited run at Trafalgar Studios this summer. It sees Harry Potter star Evanna Lynch return to the stage for the first time in four years, starring opposite fellow Irish actor Colin Campbell.
It tells the story of Runt and Pig. Born on the same day at the same hospital, they soon become inseparable and end up causing all manner of chaos. The day of their joint 17th birthday dawns, so they decide to celebrate in their own imitable style: drinking, dancing and fighting. Whilst Pig seems as attached as ever – if not more so – Runt starts to wonder what a bit of independence would be like, with disastrous consequences….
This is no ordinary play. Pig and Runt speak in thick Irish accents, but also seem to have created their own dialect. In this, and some of the events of the play (a focus on friendship, as well as displays of violence), there is a clear parallel to be drawn with Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, written over thirty years before Walsh’s play. It does take a bit of time to get used to the way they speak, but it is all fairly intuitive and becomes second nature before you know it – in fact, with a running time of 75 minutes you’re just feeling confident with it and then it ends! This style does demand some concentration, but it is absolutely worth it.
One of the rewards you get for sticking with it is an incredibly vobrant production. You enter through a dense cloud of haze to Richard Kent’s highly dystopian design on the studio’s thrust stage. However, this provides an excellent backdrop for Elliot Griggs’ colourful lighting design that seems to take inspiration from the neon palette of the rave acene. The production shots don’t lie: this is one aesthetically pleasing piece of theatre.
The production is also very physical, with the actors required to move about a lot, dance, mime and jump on one another. It is all very slickly done, with Pig’s moves in the club (to Rhythm is a Dancer, amongst others) and their attempts at crossing the road between speeding cars being particular highlights. Naomi Said has done brilliant work with her movement direction, and should be applauded.
You couldn’t ask for a better, or more committed, pair of actors than Evanna Lynch and Colin Campbell. They have become a true partnership, and you honestly believe they grew up together and have known each other their entire lives. There’s clearly a great trust between them, which allows them both to keep pushing the boundaries and make their performances all the more instinctive. They are both incredibly funny (Pig and Runt pretending to be in Baywatch is a fine example), but also have some very moving moments. Campbell portrays Pig’s growing obsession with (and dependence on) Runt perfectly, and Lynch completely captures Runt’s combined feelings of isolation and curiosity for the wide world as she tries to find her independence. A pair of noteworthy stage performances.
My verdict? A terrific tale of friendship and coming-of-age in A Clockwork Orange-like Ireland, with design and performance coming together to make something special – jarr in for a treat with this one.
Disco Pigs runs at Trafalgar Studios 2 until 19 August 2017. Tickets are available online or from the box office.