TWENTY YEARS to the day after its premiere, Enda Walsh’s iconic play Disco Pigs arrived at the Town Hall this week in a new production jointly staged by Reading Rep and Nick Thompson Productions from London. The show was helmed by Cathal Cleary, who was formerly based in Galway, and is now making his way successfully as an up and coming director in London.
Galway has probably seen more Enda Walsh productions than anywhere else over the past decade. In that time, Druid and Galway International Arts Festival have each presented three major Walsh premieres along with a clutch of shorter pieces. The arts festival has also hosted productions of Small Things and Chatroom, and there have probably been a few other touring productions passing through town over that period as well.
The healthy turn out at the Town Hall on Monday suggested that ‘Walsh fatigue’ has not afflicted Galway play-goers and it was fascinating to get a chance to see the play that effectively set the ball rolling with his stage career. It prefigures the themes that have continued to animate many of his plays. Pig (Ciaran Owens ) and Runt (Amy Molloy ), like so many Walsh characters to come, are locked into their own private world and have a complex, conflicted, relationship with outside reality. With its bristling, distinctive argot, and occasional outbursts of violence there are also echoes of A Clockwork Orange – Corkwork Orange perhaps?
In one telling scene, set in a disco where they are watching local students, Runt asks ‘Wa do dey wanna be?’ ‘Dey wanna be their mams and dads a course!’ Pig replies. ‘Wadda we wanna be Pig?’ she then asks. ‘Leff alone’ he declares.
Under Cleary’s direction and in Chloe Lamford’s design, the play is presented as if it is Pig and Runt’s home-made fantasia. Dolls and domestic bric-a-brac are used as props and lighting rigs are purposely positioned in view of the action. It calls to mind Walsh’s Walworth Farce which also transformed a mundane domestic interior into a space a theatrical arena.
Owens and Molloy are full of verve and energy as they go through the play’s gamut of private rituals, watching TV, forays to pubs, and commenting on Cork life. One key monologue of Pig’s, where he describes having sex with Runt, was delivered by Owens into a close-held microphone which regrettably muffled some of the lines.
The pacing was occasionally a little uneven, but this was a production that still had plenty of oomph for its 70 minute duration.