Review: Dancing to Destruction in Enda Walsh’s Fierce ‘Disco Pigs’

Improbably enough, these births are given specific physical life here, as Ms. Lynch and Mr. Campbell tear through the back wall of Richard Kent’s bleak and battered-looking set. It is a barren world into which these infants, born Sinead and Darren, emerge.

But as the self-re-christened Runt (Ms. Lynch) and Pig (Mr. Campbell) they turn dreary Park City (or Pork City, as they pronounce it) into a kingdom in which they reign supreme. They speak in their own invented porcine language. And they reach the heady stride of their adolescence as a pair of marauding, hard-drinking hedonists for whom a night on the town is a dangerous collision course.

It is two such nights — beginning with a movable celebration of their 17th birthdays — that particularly concern “Disco Pigs.” The script follows Pig and Runt’s paths of destruction through shops, pubs and clubs — where they steal, guzzle, dance and beat up on fellow townsfolk; into their bedrooms, where they are mesmerized by reruns of “Baywatch”; onto an empty beach, where their thoughts turn to the adulthoods that await them; and into a palatial discothèque that would appear to be the embodiment of their most cherished dreams.

And by furtive degrees, you become conscious of their nagging, growing awareness that their private realm of anarchy is beginning to dissolve. So is the symbiotic bond that has protected them from the bleakness of their lives.

The hallucinatory, Joycean night-town through which Pig and Runt roam is effectively conjured by Giles Thomas’s dense sensory soundscape, with lighting to match by Elliot Griggs. But it’s the hyper-physical performances (Naomi Said’s movement direction is key) that define not only a completely detailed environment as Pig and Runt see it, but also the reality beyond it.

Watch Mr. Campbell’s Pig rush through the gamut of an entire alphabet of disco moves, in a trance of self-infatuation that fades into the realization that everyone around him is laughing at him. Observe how Ms. Lynch’s Runt withdraws in betrayed, surprised disgust when her soul mate’s customary roughhousing turns erotic.

These segues feel even more affecting than they did when I first saw this production at Trafalgar Studios in London this summer. It helps, of course, to see “Disco Pigs” more than once to fully understand its dense, vernacular poetry, which abounds in thickly Gaelic neologisms and more classic obscenities.

Here is Pig on tripping the light…

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