The joy of being so entwined you can finish each other’s thoughts… the pain when those thoughts become dissonant.
For one hour in a small black box theater, Madeleine Carr and Rex Daugherty command your attention with these extreme emotions, in Solas Nua‘s production of “Disco Pigs.” It’s rare that I cry at the theater – having a drama background sadly numbs your reactions sometimes – but this was such a visceral experience I found myself deeply moved. Or perhaps it hit me on a profoundly personal level. Whatever the case, I urge you to spend the hour with them.
Enda Walsh’s play is densely verbal and the Irish accents are thick. This means for the first five minutes or so your brain is processing fast and wild, just like the characters. Pig and Runt are born at the same time at the same hospital and connected by the strong bond of outcasts. They celebrate their seventeenth birthday by terrorizing Cork (which they call “Pork,” snorting and eating like little pigs), their parents, pub denizens and disco dancers – until slowly they become terrorized themselves, by new emotions and challenges to their bond.
Both actors really give it their all, with riveting results. It’s an intensely physical production with the actors hurtling themselves into the action as fearlessly as they attack the emotions. Rex Daugherty gives one of the most convincing monologues on the male view of the sex act, both beautiful and crass, with a simplicity that silenced any discomfort. Madeleine Carr’s transformation from boisterous tomboy to her more adult awareness of wanting a separate identity was touching without being cloying. The moment one crosses into mad rage while the other watches in helpless disgust was as shocking as it should be, thanks to co-directors Linda Murray and Dan Brick’s straightforward and effective guidance.
It’s a rough watch, really, as we all know in our hearts how these stories end. Not in happy-ever-after land. But when one character finally breaks free we feel the palpable hope that the escape could last forever, mingled with the loss. One emotion can’t exist without the other, and the nagging uncertainty remains – the feeling that possession, control and abuse may be unavoidable.
Heartbreaking. Yet, after all, human.
Solas Nua’s “Disco Pigs”
Now thru December 5
The Mead Theatre Lab at Flashpoint
916 G Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
Tickets $20 online, 1.800.494.tixs (8497), or at door