Pig and Runt, best friend for seventeen years, live a sort of retro punk lifestyle in Cork (which they call “Pork”), Ireland. They’ve invented their own slang and live in a reality of their own construction. The two knock about town with a childish exuberance, sometimes looking for and enjoying trouble. They have made of world where they are king and queen, a teenage Bonnie and Clyde.
Pig (Rex Daugherty) is a simplistic young man, likeable despite being prone to violence. He naturally assumes he will wind up with Runt. Based upon her dramatic response to a casual kiss, Runt (Madeleine Carr) doesn’t share the same dream. Carr provides subtle shading to her character, giving glimpses that illustrate Runt as more of a dreamer who longs for a different life. While most of Disco Pigs is energetic and humorous, it is clear that tragedy is on the horizon.
We can understand their closeness, even if we can’t always understand their speech. The combination of Irish accents and their peculiar patois (think ‘Clockwork Orange’) demands close attention, but the meaning is always clear.
Daugherty and Carr are very expressive actors, and together, they achieve a compelling intensity that holds the audience spellbound. They remain in nearly constant motion and grab every opportunity to realize the explosive comedy in Walsh’s work. Consequently, the few quiet scenes (including watching an episode of ‘Baywatch’ and enjoying a reverie at the seashore) have real impact. While the plot is relatively simple, their relationship is complex and interesting.
Co-directors Dan Brick and Linda Murray do a terrific job managing the action and emotions of the play. While the work is presented in a simple black box setting, the movement of the characters is entrancing. A shopping cart is used so creatively (particularly in the story of Pig and Runt’s birth) that it could almost qualify as a supporting character. It helps the actors construct a coherent relationship arc that builds to a dramatic, if sudden, conclusion.
The Solas Nua mounting of Disco Pigs is a reprise of a production that drew deserved praise Off-Broadway last year. While these two talented actors have shown promise in other local plays, the synergy of their performances here elevates them to new artistic heights. While Disco Pigs may be a short work, it is a large treat.
By Edna Walsh
Directed by Dan Brick & Linda Murray
Produced by Solas Nua
Reviewed by Steven McKnight