Disco Pigs & Sucking Dublin
Smock Alley Theatre
First premiered in 1996 and 1997 respectively, Enda Walsh’s plays Disco Pigs and Sucking Dublin are uncompromising explorations of entrapment, self-destruction and escape, and Reality:Check Productions’ revival of them feels as fresh as I would imagine they felt 20 years ago.
Disco Pigs tells the story of Pig and Runt, two 17 year olds who share a birthday, a secret dialect of their own, and their unique, inventive and often harsh version of life in “Pork Sitty.” They have grown up together, taking on life as a duo, but now that they are seventeen and facing into impending adulthood, Runt finds herself needing space while Pig can’t let go. Tied by time, geography, friendship and necessity, these two characters live a life infused with humour, violence, love, fear and incessant energy. Walsh’s script is a whirlwind to grapple with, but it is one which this production whips into a successful theatrical frenzy. Directed by Tracy Ryan, Ethan Dillon (Pig) and Toni O’Rourke (Runt) deliver impressive and engaging performances. O’Rourke’s Runt, which this production focuses on, is a strong but heartbreaking character who evolves before the audience’s eyes. The energy of the performances is mirrored in Shane Gill’s lighting design that lends a structure of sorts to Pig and Runt’s wild written-word world, and Lydia Dorman’s excellent costume design which treads the border between imagination and reality as precipitously as the characters tread it in their escapades around “Pork Sitty.”
Following Disco Pigs, we move north-east to Sucking Dublin a harrowing story involving five characters who are seemingly locked in cycles of their own personal forms of self-destruction. After one of these characters violently sexually assaults another, the characters disperse, each fighting their own battles in the aftermath of the attack. The story centres on Little Lamb, who was assaulted, and her experiences of trying to escape the difficulties and hurt she has been landed with. It is a painful, though at moments hopeful, piece to watch, but it is worth it. With Tracy Ryan’s insightful and dynamic direction, and strong performances from the whole cast, particularly Honi Cooke as Little Lamb and Michael-David McKernan as Steve, this is a difficult but rewarding piece of theatre.
This double-bill, which brings the experiences of the central female characters from each play, Runt and Little Lamb, into focus, ties these two plays together to create a powerful and engaging theatrical experience that is not to be missed.
Disco Pigs and Sucking Dublin run in Smock Alley Theatre until December 16th.