Past Reviews

Off Broadway Reviews

Disco Pigs

Theatre Review by David Hurst - January 9, 2018

Colin Campbell and Evanna Lynch
Photo by Jeremy Daniel

It's always a red flag when the first page inside your theatre program is a note from the director explaining the play you're about to see. Such is the case with the Irish Repertory Theatre's newly imported 20th anniversary revival of Enda Walsh's landmark, two-hander, Disco Pigs, which arrives at the Rep courtesy of Tara Finney Productions following a critically-acclaimed run at London's Trafalgar Studios last summer. Its director, John Haidar, the Associate Director of the maverick touring company Headlong Theatre, is smart to include such a note but audiences may need a more comprehensive handout, including a glossary of words, to fully understand the play they're about to see. Furiously paced and filled with unintelligible gibberish courtesy of Tony-winner Walsh (Once), Disco Pigs is a challenge for contemporary American audiences despite its status as an Irish masterpiece.

Originally written in five days for Pat Kiernan, founder of the Corcadorca Theatre Company, in 1996 for what was supposed to be a 2-week run at the Triskel Arts Centre in Cork, Disco Pigs, only Walsh's second play, became an international phenomenon that launched the careers of its creators, made stars of its actors, Eileen Walsh and Cillian Murphy, and influenced an entire generation of Irish theatre artists. Written in the daunting vernacular of a specific County Cork dialect, Disco Pigs is the story of Darren and Sinead, bonded at birth by their mothers who delivered them side-by-side in the County Cork maternity hospital. Calling each other Pig (Darren) and Runt (Sinead), their piteously dysfunctional lives have been inseparable ever since, but they haven't just renamed themselves. Pig and Runt have created a private language all their own which they use to insulate and isolate themselves from the outside world. As they celebrate their 17th birthday they go rampaging through Cork like Bonnie and Clyde, but cracks in their telepathic relationship are starting to show. Pig's sexual attraction to Runt has blossomed and Runt increasingly realizes there might be more to her world than Pig, getting drunk and watching reruns of Baywatch.

First seen in New York as part of the 1st Irish Theatre Festival in 2008 at 59E59, Disco Pigs legacy and reputation loom large. To be sure, it's a period piece, but what may have seemed cutting edge and radical in 1996 runs the risk of feeling dated and pretentious in 2018. It's not enough to feel Pig and Runt's emotions, we want to understand what they're saying and that's a challenge throughout this 75-minute, intermission-less revival. In addition to Walsh's dialogue being daunting, the physicality required of Pig and Runt is exhausting. Fortunately, that doesn't phase the production's terrific stars Colin Campbell and Evanna Lynch. Both Campbell, a recent graduate of the RADA-affiliated Lir Academy at Trinity College in Dublin, and Lynch, who starred as Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter films, have commanding presences on stage and throw themselves into their roles with passion, energy and commitment. They bounce about the modestly appointed set like live-wires sparking off each other, their adrenaline propelling them forward thru the thicket of thoughts and feelings being tossed our way. Without question, Campbell and Lynch are the reason to see this revival of Disco Pigs, a play about words, whose themes of alienation, isolation and teenage angst transcend its distinctively Irish setting.

Disco Pigs
Through February 18
Irish Repertory Theatre, 132 West 22nd Street between 6th and 7th Avenues
Tickets online and current Performance Schedule: OvationTix

Privacy Policy