Pig and runt

Ciaran Owens as Pig and Amy Molloy as Runt

Disco Pigs

Birmingham Rep Door


EDNA Walsh’s Disco Pigs was first performed in Cork in 1996. It won the Best Fringe Production Award at the Dublin Fringe Festival in the same year and it is the play that sparked Cillian Murphy’s career.

Today, the acclaimed Cathal Cleary reintroduced audiences to the lyrical mastery of Walsh’s explosive script. As the Winner of the JMK Award in 2011, Cleary shows the dysfunctional world of two people, born seconds apart from each other. It is a play that sits on the cusp between emotional reality and childhood play.

Pig and Runt have been inseparable since birth. The first scene tells the story of how their mothers gave birth seconds apart with a rapid puppet show using Barbie dolls. Here, we see the reason why the characters of this explosive two hander are called Pig and Runt. Suddenly, we are fast-forwarded to Runt’s Seventeenth Birthday, which is the start of their new adult life.

Chloe Lamford’s set is a clever stroke of art. It parallels the fast-paced world that Pig and Runt have created for themselves. The harsh and cutting scenes of Walsh’s script are woven together in quick scene changes that are deployed mostly by the actors. Changing lights and sounds are used to instantly switch between life at home and their roaring adventures within Cork city. In their efforts to lead a party lifestyle and enter the clubs and bars of Cork, the audience are transported suddenly to scenes of disco dancefloors, seedy pubs and their own living room.

The actors simultaneously press buttons and runt and pigactivate sounds that bring us right where we need to be at any given point. Lamford brings a technical brilliance, as actors and set become one with each other.

Pig and Runt live a life completely within their own rules and because of this; they have no idea about life outside of the world they have built for themselves. It is perhaps a coming of age story, as the two find out about love and adulthood in the rawest possible way.

Ciaran Owens plays Pig, the earthy man who is king of their world. Owens is strong throughout the entire piece, particularly at the end of the play where Pig finally realises his role in the outer parameters of the real world. His on-stage partner is Amy Molloy as Runt.

She does well to stimulate riveting emotional responses on multiple occasions with heart-felt monologues. Together, they are a great double act. This play relies heavily on the instinctive reactions given from each character. Owens and Molloy both have a wonderful trust in each other that allow them to go to the ultimate edge that this script demands. It is emotionally charged and laced with violence. Owens and Molloy have indeed captured the journey of two children catapulted into the harsh world of Cork.

Walsh’s script could very easily be put into the category of ‘new writing’. Each scene is completely different from the next, and yet we still have a great sense of character and purpose. It is a high-paced story running at a total of Seventy minutes and because of its swift movement, sudden switches of scene changes and poetic language make the ultimate essence sometimes difficult to understand. We are, however, in capable hands with Ownes and Molloy who commit fully to the emotional brevity that is required from characters and plot.

Perhaps it is Walsh’s intention that the script is sometimes jagged, with short bursts that make up each scene. It parallels Pig and Runt’s lifestyle of bingeing and exuberance. There are constant elements of choral speaking and the spoken word and Walsh’s poetic language always reminds us of the background to which the play is set. Disco Pigs has a ‘Lord of the Flies’ connotation, where Pig and Runt have made their own world together and nobody can stop them. The audience see the dire consequences of what it means to live in a world where rules do not apply.

Walsh has surprises in every angle of this play. He has the smooth ability to shock audiences with explosive scenes and vivid images. The actors use mannequins as their puppets to account for other characters in the story and although they are inanimate, they still manage to create the emotional pull thanks to the commitment of each actor, especially during the final scenes. Walsh has the ability to create a whirlwind of emotion in such a short amount of time. Through his characters and plot, the audience see a reflection of a striking world, with beautiful writing and terrific actors. To 01-10-16.

Elizabeth Halpin



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