Venue: The Factory Theatre (Marrickville NSW), Jan 7 – 9, 2016
Playwright: Enda Walsh
Director: Andrew Langcake
Cast: Jeff Hampson, Courtney Powell
Enda Walsh’s Disco Pigs is a very specific story. It deals with a very particular time in a teenager’s life, and the set of circumstances surrounding its characters is culturally unique. The play does not aim to be universally appealing, but in its passionate exploration of something anomalous, an essence emerges that can reveal aspects of life that we can all recognise. Walsh’s language and narratives are interested in the marginalised youth of Western societies. We are presented with a state of being that needs to be understood, but is often ignored. It deals with the consequences of modernity, and how our young negotiates the dangerous meaninglessness of life at a time when everything can be reduced and diminished. With the commodification of everything in pervasive economic rationalisation, we experience chaotic shifts in ethics and values, and what we impart to our youth is consistently but disappointingly dubious.
Pig and Runt make their own rules. They have accepted that money is out of reach, and coupled with a disrespect of social mores, their lives are guided by the pleasure principle, with intoxication and violence forming the core of their existence. In their failure to see greater meaning in life, time is spent on the base and visceral, and we wonder how the appetite for progress, advancement or even aspiration have come to be in most of our lives. Direction of the work by Andrew Langcake is simple, but energetic. While not hugely imaginative, the staging is mindful of creating a sense of aliveness for the author’s words, in order that we can reach a more intimate perspective of the characters’ somewhat unusual world through their construction of action, sound and atmosphere. Actors Jeff Hampson and Courtney Powell are well-rehearsed and thoughtful in their approach, but execution can be more precise and confident. These are wild stories being told, and even though they make good attempts at depicting the grittiness of their Irish city, finding authenticity for that harrowing environment proves to be quite a challenge.
Artists must be encouraged to create mountains out of molehills, so that the unusual can be seen. As long as truths can be found, all artistic expression is valid. We don’t have to care about the people in Disco Pigs but they do have something to offer anyone who wishes to listen. When the moral of the story is unclear, the captive audience will find for themselves what they most need to hear.