It’s been a gala autumn for pig-news, with our Prime Minister sticking his dick in one and then barely a month later the news breaks that our beloved bacon sarnies will give us all bowel cancer. Whether or not they’re both outright porkies, Urinetown writer Greg Kotis must be thrilled with the timing of his new farce, a dark-ish comedy of pig rearing, repressed desire and the cruel hand of big government.
Tom and Tina slave away on a ginormous American pig farm. They have almost 15,000 of the squealers, and the work has snuffed out their sex life and forced Tom to pursue some desperate waste disposal measures that could see his farm go the same way. The arrival of strutting, box-ticking Teddy, a ‘G-Man’ from the federal government, and a burgeoning relationship between Tina and work release farm-hand Tim sets the whole muddy mechanism into motion.
With its ominous talk of ‘pot-bellied skies’ and occasional explosions of lust or violence, it’s essentially a piggy rewrite of Eugene O’Neill’s ‘Desire Under the Elms’, though with plodding jokes and slapstick in place of simmering sexual tension.
Stephen Tompkinson is excellent playing swaggeringly against type as the government inspector, and Carla Goodman’s design is delightfully shabby and mud-spattered, but it’s just all a bit pointless. It says nothing coherent about the relationship between personal endeavour and federal jurisdiction, it’s never particularly funny and its characters are thinly drawn. There’s something larger and more poignant at play here somewhere, but in Katharine Farmer’s current production it stays buried amongst the slurry and the swill.