×

Disco Pigs

Say what? "Disco Pigs," Enda Walsh's blast of live-from-Cork color, has the audience on about a three-second dialect delay, but, blessedly, that's part of the point. Energetically directed by Dan Brick, this 1996 play is a bloody skid through the private world of Pig (a boy) and Runt (a girl), two friends with a private language made up of Irish slang, ancient in-jokes, and plain old nonsense.

With:
Pig - Rex Daugherty Runt - Madeleine Carr

Say what? “Disco Pigs,” Enda Walsh’s blast of live-from-Cork color, has the audience on about a three-second dialect delay, but, blessedly, that’s part of the point. Energetically directed by Dan Brick, this 1996 play is a bloody skid through the private world of Pig (a boy) and Runt (a girl), two friends with a private language made up of Irish slang, ancient in-jokes, and plain old nonsense. Pig’s violent shenanigans are probably a little too much at times, but why gripe? This is about as much theater as you can get out of two actors and a shopping cart.

Like James Joyce in full-blown triple-entendre mode, Walsh knows you won’t understand him right off, so he repeats himself and repeats himself, while Brick gives his actors a dozen innovative tricks to illustrate what they are describing in their pidgin English.

This gives Pig (Rex Daugherty) and Runt (Madeleine Carr) a distinct advantage over Finnegan: we can see what they’re talking about, even if we’re only getting prepositions and the occasional verb from lines like, “An da liddle baby beebas a Pork Sity take da furs bread inta da whirl.” For that line, we get the spectacle of Pig, balanced on the play’s only prop (a now-upturned shopping cart), poking his head out from between Runt’s legs as if he’s being “born” as she narrates.

Popular on Variety

Pig and Runt are inseparable, even when one of them isn’t giving birth to the other. They were born on the same day, to neighbors, 17 years ago, and have been best pals ever since, which is one of the reasons they’re so hard to understand: they only really talk to one another. It’s like a regional dialect from a very strange country, population: two.

For Walsh, the theater’s foremost comedian of poisonous relationships, the conceit is irresistible. And, of course, doomed.

The playwright’s last Gotham outing, “The Walworth Farce,” had a controlling father forcing his kids to act out his alibi for murdering their mam. Here, the damage is done the old-fashioned way — with a first kiss. Pig discovers he loves Runt; Runt discovers she’s spent enough time in their private country and wants to study abroad. As they wander through Cork, starting fights with everyone from barkeeps to the Sinn Fein, the two start to grow apart, which would be elegiac and sad in anyone else’s play and is kinetic and scary in Walsh’s.

The marketing problem with Walsh’s plays — also true of “Walworth” — is that there’s no way to stop them from sounding like total downers when the truth is that they’re usually a lot of fun. Pig is “da bes an da worse pal in dis bad ol whirl,” as Runt points out, and their adventures are peppered with deceptively smart dialogue and jokes that range between horrifying and hilarious, sometimes scoring both sensations at once.

It’s a brave, brief, funny piece that uses linguistics to venture into an emotional territory few people have ever explored. Or, as Joyce himself put it, “One great part of every human existence is passed in a state which cannot be rendered sensible by the use of wideawake language, cutanddry grammar and goahead plot.”

Disco Pigs

59E59; 49 seats; $18 top

Production: A Solas Nua presentation of a play in one act by Enda Walsh. Directed by Dan Brick.

Creative: Costumes, Lynly A. Saunders; lighting, Marianne Meadows; sound, Dan Brick, Linda Murray; production stage manager, Joe Dempsey. Opened Sept. 9, 2008. Reviewed Sept. 10. Running time: 1 HOUR.

Cast: Pig - Rex Daugherty Runt - Madeleine Carr

More Legit

  • Grand Horizons review

    'Grand Horizons': Theater Review

    Don’t stop me if you’ve heard this one, as you surely must have: A nice, all-American family is in the process of breaking up and trying to make this sad state of affairs seem funny in Bess Wohl’s Broadway outing “Grand Horizons.” After 50 years of marriage, Nancy (the ever-elegant Jane Alexander) and Bill (the [...]

  • Uncle Vanya review

    'Uncle Vanya': Theater Review

    Director Ian Rickson has had success with Chekhov in the past. His exquisitely balanced, tragicomic production of “The Seagull” (2007 in London, 2008 on Broadway) was well-nigh flawless with, among others, Kristin Scott Thomas as painfully vulnerable as she was startlingly funny. Sadly, with his production of “Uncle Vanya,” despite felicities in the casting, lightning [...]

  • The Welkin review

    'The Welkin': Theater Review

    A life hanging perilously in the balance of charged-up, polarized opinions: This courtroom drama could easily have been titled “Twelve Angry Women.” But playwright Lucy Kirkwood (“Chimerica,” “The Children”) is far too strong and imaginative a writer for so hand-me-down a cliché. Instead she opts for “The Welkin,” an old English term for the vault [...]

  • Tina Fey attends the "Mean Girls"

    Tina Fey Announces Movie Adaptation of Broadway's 'Mean Girls' Musical

    It’s good to be mean…the “Mean Girls” musical, that is. Producers of the hit Broadway show announced today that the Tony-nominated production is being adapted for the big screen for Paramount Pictures. The musical is based on the 2004 movie of the same name. “I’m very excited to bring ‘Mean Girls’ back to the big screen,’ Tina Fey, [...]

  • Freestyle Love Supreme

    Watch Lin-Manuel Miranda and 'Freestyle Love Supreme' in Exclusive Clip From Sundance Documentary

    Before turning “Hamilton” and “In the Heights” into musical phenomenons, Lin-Manuel Miranda could have been found on stage, spouting off-the-cuff rhymes with his improv group, “Freestyle Love Supreme.” After performing across the globe, the troupe — founded 15 years ago by Miranda, his frequent collaborator Thomas Kail and emcee Anthony Veneziale — made its Broadway [...]

  • Ariana Grande 7 Rings

    Rodgers & Hammerstein Are Having a Moment Thanks to Ariana Grande, 'Oklahoma!'

    Jaws dropped when it was revealed that the late musical theater titans Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II were granted 90% of the songwriting royalties on “7 Rings,” Ariana Grande’s 2019 No. 1 hit. The dominant motif of Grande’s song is taken from “My Favorite Things,” the cornerstone of R&H’s 1959 musical “The Sound of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content