STAGE REVIEW: Disco Pigs @ Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle (21.02.24) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Alphabetti Theatre’s production of Enda Walsh’s award-winning Disco Pigs is the first professional production of the play in the North East. Whether or not you’re already familiar with the show, or its 2001 film adaptation starring Cillian Murphy and Elaine Cassidy, this rendering plunges you into the deep end from the opening scene. Walsh’s fast moving, rhythmic script signifies the pace in which the two central characters, Pig (Ben Gettins) and Runt (Amy McAllister), hurtle towards their fated future.

With just a 55 minute duration, no time is wasted establishing Pig and Runt’s almost symbiotic relationship. We meet them in Cork, Ireland, the city they’ve grown up in, in the lead up to their 17th birthday. Immediately striking is their shared, embedded perspective of the world they inhabit and their place, or lack of place, in it. The stories they recite let you know their lives so far have been a struggle against the tide, with only their friendship keeping them afloat. It is therefore unsurprising that they’re now most comfortable in chaos, often of their own making. These self-destructive tendencies and disregard for consequence lead the duo into increasingly dangerous, intense and violent situations.

This crescendo of chaos carries throughout the show and is heightened by the quick Cork dialect that weaves between the pair frantically, leaving you always one step behind. Despite the pace, there are moments of respite in the humour and charm that both characters carry, an accomplishment of both the script and performances, that keep the audience on side despite flashes of antagonistic behaviour.

Embellishing the stripped back staging, subtle changes in light and the employment of sound and music allows director Ali Pritchard to open up Pig and Runt’s claustrophobic world. In the moments these tools are best utilised, most notably when the friends take solace in nature or lose themselves dancing to music, an expansive future beyond their current existence is teased. It is here where the conflict becomes internal, as Runt begins to doubt whether the life she has built with Pig is as fulfilling as she needs or deserves.

What shines through most in this production is the engaging storytelling, especially in the winding paths you veer down when Pig and Runt recount moments from their intertwined lives. Although you’re acutely aware that they’re not the most reliable narrators, the ferocious way you’re brought along for the ride is testament to the magnetism of Walsh’s script, as well as the talent of Gettins, McAllister and the whole creative team.

Disco Pigs runs at Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle until Saturday 9th March.

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