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A CurtainUp Review
Disco Pigs

an birrday in, birrday out. . . us togedder. — Runt
disco pigs
Colin Campbell & Evanna Lynch
Twenty years have passed since Enda Walsh's Disco Pigs burst onto the stage at the Edinburgh Theatre Festival, catapulting the author into the theatrical limelight. This powerful coming-of-age play sensitively helmed by John Haidar can now be seen Off Broadway in Tara Finney's 20th Anniversary Production's rendition at the Irish Repertory Theatre.

Walsh's modern-day fable takes place in Cork City, Ireland, in 1996. We meet two dysfunctional adolescents nicknamed Pig and Runt, who were born at the same time in the same hospital. They become best pals, develop their own language, and live in their own enclosed world. Sixteen birthdays come and go, and they're still together. But their intense friendship, at least for Runt, begins to pinch at her expanding psyche and has her wondering about life beyond the walls of their room. Then, their joint 17th birthday arrives — and what begins as an exciting celebration ends in violence.

What is most striking about Disco Pigs is its peculiar language. The two protagonists speak in a Cork dialect that is interspersed with references to popular culture. Having spent considerable time in Ireland I learned to understand various dialects. However, while that dialect is likely to land on the ear like gibberish, patience and close listening will make the words a bit less daunting and less like a cryptic code than the authentic lingo of two young Irish rebels who refuse to adhere to the status quo.

Expect to experience some deja vu as Pig and Runt dredge up names, artifacts, and phenomena from the past century. Whether it's the beloved animated characters Bambi and Thumper or the hard-boiled American gangsters Bonnie and Clyde, you'll time travel through the decades and recall the good, the bad, and those who famously lived by the River Lee.

It would be natural to be puzzled when names like John Charlton, Dinny Irwin, Tom Keane (Irish footballers) and Terry Wogan (an Irish radio and television broadcaster) whiz by your ear. But don't fret! Evn if you don't get who's who, you'll should have no problem following the gist of Pig and Runt's chatter .

Evanna Lynch (Harry Potter films) and Colin Campbell (Dublin by Lamplight), who are reprising their energetic performances from the London staging. Both convincingly inhabit the roles of two manic teens in an increasingly toxic relationship. They also manage some spot on punk rock dance routines.

The set by Richard Kent is minimalist. You won't see anything fancier than a huge draped curtain (Pig and Runt grotesquely use it to mimic their tandem birth in the delivery room) and an old-fashioned television set that serves as the perfect escape from their dreary hometown. But fussless as it is, the setting does allow the stage to become, in turn, a living space, a disco floor, or kind of never-never land. Elliot Griggs' half lighting is just right for this expressionist piece and the casual athletic wear (Kent again) that Pig and Runt wear could come straight off the rack of a Modell's sporting goods store. While their clothing is nothing fancy, it certainly allows our uninhibited protagonists to move from point A to B, and execute their crazy dance sequences.

theater goers most familiar with Enda Walsh as the book writer for the hit musical Once, may find Disco Pigs disconcertingly different. But it's also a fine opportunity to see the talented and now well-known playwright's envelope pushing fledgling work.

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Disco Pigs by Enda Walsh
Directed by John Haidar
Cast: Evanna Lynch & Colin Campbell
Set & costume design: Richard Kent
Lighting design: Elliot Griggs
Sound design: Giles Thomas
Movement director: Naomi Said
Dialect coach: Helen Ashton
Stage Manager: April Anne Kline
Irish Repertory Mainstage 132 W. 22nd St
Running time: Approx. 75 minutes, no intermission
From 1/05/18; opening 1/09/18; closing 3/04/18.
Wed, Thurs, Fri and Sat at 8pm; Thurs, 7pm; Wed, Sat and Sun at 3pm.
Reviewed by Deirdre Donovan at 1/06/18 press preview

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