Disco Pigs

MF22-Jonathon-Shilling-and-Antoinette-Davis-in-Disco-Pigs-photo-by-Cameron-Grant, ParenthesyA unique coming of age tale, this production of Enda Walsh’s Disco Pigs has a slight dystopian flavour to it, reminiscent of the Burgess novel and Kubrick film, A Clockwork Orange in its embrace of violence as amusement and its peculiar but intelligible slang.

Inseparable childhood companions Darren (Pig played by Jonathon Shilling) and Sinéad (Runt played by Antoinette Davis) explore a world of their own making, while uncovering new knowledge about themselves as individuals and the nature of the world beyond their imaginings.

Director Gavin Roach has created a sparsely ornamented stage where Spencer Herd’s lighting and Danni A. Esposito’s sound design are free to play a larger role in shaping the setting.

The underscoring throughout competes a little bit with the actors for sonic space, but neither performer was fighting to be heard and the overall effect was to enhance the context.

The costumes are also simple but significant, emphasising the almost fraternal quality of their shared upbringing, while providing something of a blank canvas that awaits the paintbrush of adulthood.

The play takes place in Ireland and Shilling and Davis do an admirable job of maintaining their accents with minimal slippage and enough clarity that the coded language of the characters gets across for the most part.

The enthusiasm, confidence and youth they pour into Pig and Runt is electric, and the pace of life of the two characters sweeps us up into their world of habits, in-jokes and dancing.

The wit of both actors finds moments to shine and their unshrinking engagement with the audience lends both characters a bravado that is poignantly tinged with adolescent insecurity.

Davis blends all the carefree fun of a teenager with the uncertainty of what life holds for her next, even as she is compelled to find out.

Meanwhile, the twinkly eyed menace of Shilling’s Pig cloaks a nuanced portrayal of the inner turmoil of a boy who is not yet sure how to be the man he is fast becoming. These are not simple characters and both actors give crafted and empathetic performances that do credit to a great text.

Disco Pigs
Meat Market – Stables, 5 Blackwood Street, North Melbourne
Performance: Tuesday 18 October 2022 – 8.00pm
Season continues to 22 October 2022
Information and Bookings: www.melbournefrine.com.au

Image: Jonathon Shilling and Antoinette Davis in Disco Pigs – photo by Cameron Grant, Parenthesy

Review: Daniel Townsend