Alternative, underground dance music is played quietly as you enter the Studio at the York Theatre Royal. The sounds hold a surreal resemblance to that which your twelve-year-old neighbour plays as he's doing his midnight homework, and has one of those annoying beats you can't get out of your head.
The set looks like, but actually isn't, suburban Chicago in the 1980s - graffitied scaffolding and floor - the rusty-metal look prevailing under lights shining sharp white light on to the black set below in an eerie disco style. Welcome, to Enda Walsh's Disco Pigs.
The play revolves around two main characters - Pig (John Kirk) and Runt (Lucy Chalkely). You enter the plot on their respective seventeenth birthdays. They were born at exactly the same time in the same place in Ireland, and have lived there ever since. They have grown up with each other, sharing each other's experiences and finding a language of their own to put them in. The uniqueness of the dialogue gives the play a distinctive style, even though in the first few minutes you can't understand a word. But their language slowly opens up to you and when you have a grasp of it, a sense of being invisible insiders of Pig and Runt's world develops.
Throughout the play, memories of the duo’s childhood are recalled, and finally, the inseparable pair decide to go out and celebrate their birthday together. They visit the local underground disco, where they go through the usual routine of a successful night's partying: dancing, ‘feelin' da Buzz’ and Pig ending up in a tussle. These fight scenes, although well written and well acted, are horrific in their descriptions, and the language used to describe the ‘smashes’ is particularly vulgar.
Half way through the performance, the play starts to lack body and the plot suffers. This, however, is rectified when Runt starts to have second thoughts about Pig. She considers the moral implications of aiding Pig's violence, but the play generally fails to capitalize on this interesting twist.
Despite the effective set, dynamic lighting and subtle sound effects, there’s an inconsistent plot, and the language used by the actors could cause offence to some audiences - especially the references to the sexual nature of Pig and Runt's relationship. Director Tim Welton develops the boundaries of theatre, and although altogether thought-provoking and innovative, it might not be to everyone's taste...
John Pybus (reviewed at York Theatre Royal)