In 1997, Disco Pigs catapulted writer Enda Walsh to the big time. 20 years on, his play about two disaffected teenagers has lost none of its kinetic energy, nor the power to simultaneously shock and move.
Director John Haidar’s compelling revival stars Evanna Lynch – who Harry Potter fans will recognise as Luna Lovegood – and Colin Campbell as Runt and Pig. They were born on the same day in the same Irish hospital and have been inseparable ever since.
So close is their bond, they exist almost as one person, finishing each other’s sentences and communicating in their own unique language, to the exclusion of all outsiders. By the time they are 17, Runt and Pig have drifted into petty crime and casual violence for kicks, with Runt acting as the bait and Pig stepping in as the jealous boyfriend to mete out increasingly brutal acts of retribution.
Colin Campbell and Evanna Lynch (photos by Alex Brenner)
But as youth gives way to adulthood, fractures begin to appear, with Pig unable to cope emotionally with the physical feelings he’s developing for Runt while she struggles to rebuff his fumbling advances.
The production is blessed with two cracking performances. Evanna Lynch is a firecracker of intense energy, but slips easily into nuanced wistfulness as she begins to express aspirations beyond their closed relationship. Campbell is a coiled spring as Pig; the threat of underlying violence keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout.
Haider keeps the action at a breakneck pace with a visceral energy that never lets up. It’s all done on an empty stage with minimal props but given an immersive feel thanks to the brilliant work of movement director Naomi Said.
The pair’s unique slang and thick brogues make the dialogue impenetrable at first, but it takes on a hypnotic and poetic quality. Only when they take a trip to the coast does the pace slacken as Runt begins to open up about her dreams. But even this melancholy scene has an underlying tension as you wonder if they’re heading for some sort of Thelma and Louise-esque ending.
Disco Pigs is at the Trafalgar Studios in London until 19 August