Review: Disco Pigs (Trafalgar Studios)

Enda Walsh’s two-hander about an unhealthy friendship receives its 20th anniversary production

Enda Walsh's two-hander has been brought to full-blooded life in this production by John Haidar, 20 years after it was first written. The play stars Evanna Lynch as Runt and Colin Campbell as Pig, two teens born at exactly the same time who've been friends since birth. But on their 17th birthday the two peas in a pod begin to grow apart.

Written in a Cork dialect, Disco Pigs won the George Define Award and Stewart Parker Award in 1997 after it was first performed at Triskel Arts Centre, Cork, in September 1996, followed by the Dublin Theatre Festival the same year – and propelled Walsh to fame.

Pig and Runt's connection to each other is fierce and protective, to the exclusion of everyone else around them. They often seem like young children, running about, mimicking characters from Baywatch (designer Richard Kent’s glowing TV that they watch, mesmerised), but there's a droogish quality to their love for violence, and their speech often echoes the imaginative colloquialism of Anthony Burgess's Clockwork Orange. There's also a playing around with high and low art, with the two piggies truffling down their dinners off the floor as classical music plays.

Pig and Runt's language is part-Cork, part made-up and their conversation is ribald, slang-filled, funny and poetic all at once; re-enacting their simultaneous births at the start of the play, heads poking through the curtains like crowning babies, Pig comments, "The fannies, they look like doner kebabs."

The pair’s affection for each other, and zest for adventure is so infectious that as they merrily do the rounds of the neighbourhood, beating up unsuspecting acquaintances, I was grinning happily along with them.

Lynch is best known as Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter films and her characteristic misty-eyed stare comes into play here when she imagines a future as a different person, unfettered by her attachment to Pig and the council estate where they live. But her versatility and emotional honesty as an actress shines through too. There’s also an amazing moment where she gets beaten up by an unseen foe who holds no punches. It’s quite amazing to watch, thanks to movement director Naomi Said.

Campbell's energetic performance is something to behold too, particularly his dance mash-up at the Palace Disco, the friends' favourite club, where Elliot Griggs’ laser lighting really comes into play, evoking a scuzzy, middle-of-the night exoticism. His face can change from vicious, blind anger to soft, puppyish love in an instant, which it often has to, such is the pace of the deft script.

Both actors bring alive the emotional intensity of being a teenager and living for the moment, but also the struggle that exists when who you are is pitched against who you want to become and the two don’t measure up. Go see it.

Disco Pigs runs at Trafalgar Studios until 19 August.