Disco Pigs, the explosive two-hander which had its British debut at the Edinburgh Festival in 1997, provided career breakthroughs for two Irishmen, its author Enda Walsh and actor Cillian Murphy, who originated the role of Pig both on stage and in the 2001 screen adaptation. This revival provides a launch pad for another: Cathal Cleary, winner of this year’s JMK Award for young directors, the proceeds of which have funded this production.
As we enter the Young Vic’s Clare studio, we enter Pig and Runt’s world, a makeshift stage within a stage, overhung by a dozen mismatched lampshades, strewn with crates, worn furniture and bric-a-brac. The king and queen of this world, two dishevelled teens, are dancing wildly around the place, playing – rewinding and fast-forwarding – loud music on their cassette players and glaring at us interlopers.
Now celebrating their 17th birthdays, these two have been best friends since they were born moments apart in a Cork hospital and they’ve shared just about everything – to the exclusion of all others – ever since. They’ve ditched mundane monikers, Darren and Sinead, in favour of their barnyard names, developed their own private language of grunts and gibberish, and adopted a bestial and brutal way of living, revolving around cheap cider, karaoke, pub scampi and bullying.
But as they near adulthood, their diverging desires – Pig’s to become more than friends, Runt’s to broaden her horizons – threaten to destroy everything. Not even a night at the legendary Palace Disco may be able to save their friendship.
Cleary draws captivatingly frenzied performances from his two stars, Rory Fleck-Byrne as the smitten Pig whose innate violence simmers just below the surface and Charlie Murphy as the reluctant runt. And the director, with designer Chloe Lamford, provide the actors with an array of balloons, mannequins, Barbies, party poppers and other toys, props and party accessories to populate their storytelling. It’s a wild ride.