Pros: An energetic, unique play that runs the gamut from witty to tender to tense.
Cons: Most of the play is written in a “pig latin” style language, which may grate on some.
I have been to both performance spaces at Trafalgar Studios on several occasions. As on previous visits, I was impressed with the friendly and helpful front of house team but found the front of house itself uninspiring and reminiscent of a chain cinema foyer. Minor gripe aside, Studio 2 is an intimate and welcoming studio theatre.
Disco Pigs was Enda Walsh’s debut play and is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Walsh’s other works include the Bowie musical Lazarus and the stage adaptation of musical Once. Anyone who is familiar with Walsh’s plays will know that his style is unique, to say the least, and a little “Marmite”. Poetic and vivid in its imagery, Walsh’s style combines hyper realism with surrealism and isn’t for everyone. In the interest of being transparent, I personally love Walsh’s playwriting. I have seen several of his works, including the excellent Ballyturk at the National Theatre, and really enjoy the creative way he uses language.
That being said, Disco Pigs may understandably test some theatregoers’ patience. Charting the violent and drink fuelled misadventures of two Irish seventeen year olds, “Pig” (Campbell) and “Runt” (Lynch), the play is written in an invented language similar to the slang language ‘Nadsat’ in A Clockwork Orange. While surprisingly easy to follow, some lines of dialogue will pass even the most attentive audience member by. Personally, I enjoyed this aspect of the play but it may not be for everyone.
The staging and lighting are simple but effective. A foreboding rumpled black curtain is drawn across the back of the stage, the only prop in the sparsely decorated performance space is an old fashioned television set with a glowing screen sat on the floor in one corner. The varied lighting and Campbell and Lynch’s energetic performances makes the small space feel well used and helps to convey a sense of movement from setting to setting (of which there were many, including a pub, the coast, an ‘offie’ and a bedroom). At the play’s apex, strobe lighting is used to beautiful effect to create a nightclub the pair have practically mythologised.
A production with just two actors depends on the strength of their performances. Typically of Walsh’s plays, Disco Pigs is a highly physical play and both Campbell and Lynch give energetic, compelling performances. Campbell’s performance is stronger, his voice carrying better and his portrayal more dynamic but together Campbell and Lynch make an excellent and believable duo.
While Disco Pigs is unlikely to win many new fans for Walsh thanks to its challenging and unusual use of language, this is an excellent production featuring great movement, lighting and good performances. A treat for Walsh fans and theatregoers in search of something offbeat.
Writer: Enda Walsh
Producer: Tara Finney Productions
Director: John Haidar
Box Office: 084 4871 7632
Booking Until: 19 August 2017
Booking Link: http://m.atgtickets.com/shows/disco-pigs/trafalgar-studios/