Trafalgar Studios, London – until 18 August 2017
Guest Reviewer: Isabelle Fernandez
The 20th anniversary production of Disco Pigs is an intimate portrayal of two intertwined lives, boldly brought to life by Runt (Evanna Lynch) and Pig (Colin Campbell). The play centres around the complicated relationship between Lynch and Campbell, taking the viewer through a tumultuous period fraught with love, yearning, desire and infatuation. A powerful coming-of-age story encompasses two young people coming to terms with new & confusing emotions and the desire to escape a current mundane existence for change.
The high quality performances manage to make effective use of Richard Kent’s sparse set and this really comes to the fore in a scene in the Palace Disco where anything feels possible. This scene was a real summit within the production, bringing the audience into the club and into the action. There is an excellent use of music, which makes it hard to believe that 20 years has passed since Enda Walsh original playscript.
Lynch contrasts intense emotions that Campbell holds for her – these root him in the present with a desire to resist any change that could come between the pair. The energetic performances are overtly physical from the very first moments, which consists of an explicitly described, exhaustive and physical birth scene. This is very effective in scenes such as this, however in other scenes the use of the actors’ physicality as a tool in the storytelling feels grating. In lieu of other characters or a complex scenery the use of physical expression is relied upon too heavily.
There are times where the story drops off and the play falls flat. The intimate nature of the production engendered by John Haidar gives the audience a vantage point into a co-dependent relationship, but never truly invites them in; there was a distance between the viewer and the story when witnessing the pairs’ adventures and misfortunes. The actors’ unique language and mannerisms are a good means of drawing in the viewer, however the overdependence on these elements leads to an alienation over time.
The compelling scenes which move between reality and imagination are captivating, as is the powerful tragic close to the play. The elation of the pigs’ enjoyment of the disco is another highlight alongside some poignant moments where the realisation of the true nature of Campbell’s feelings are revealed, and later their unrequited nature. However some of the impact of the performances are undermined by a reliance on a physical staging of the story progression, and on the under and over emphasis of particular elements that confused the Disco Pigs narrative.