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Theater review by Adam Feldman
The bond between childhood friends can be hard for outsiders to understand. Enda Walsh’s 1996 breakthrough play, Disco Pigs, takes that notion to extremes: At many points, it is nearly unintelligible. Neighbors born on the same day, its two teenage characters—who call each other Pig (Colin Campbell) and Runt (Evanna Lynch, the Harry Potter films' Luna Lovegood)—share an unusually close relationship. Their thick Irish accents would be barrier enough to many American ears, but they also use a daunting personal language: a pungent infantile twin-speak full of wordplay, scatology and onomatopoeia.
There is much to admire about John Haidar’s revival, but despite the actors’ energetic performances, the experience of absorbing the play can be exhausting. Since Disco Pigs has almost no props or sets—aside from an old TV, on which Pig and Runt escape to the “Caliphoney” world of Baywatch—we often have only their energetic movement to guide us through the fog of their quasi-gibberish as they narrate their own sordid misadventures on the “piss-grey” streets of Cork, which they call Pork Sity. There is a plot behind the noise: The duo’s insular world of telly and kinesis dissolves throughout the play, eroded by Pig’s tendencies toward ugly street violence and his sexual attraction to the increasingly restless Runt. But some audience members are bound to tune out early in confusion, and that reaction is understandable.
Irish Repertory Theatre (Off Broadway). By Enda Walsh. Directed by John Haidar. With Evanna Lynch, Colin Campbell. Running time: 1hr 15mins. No intermission.