This UK production by Reading Rep of Enda Walsh’s seminal play is a fussier version of the original coming-of-age drama. Instead of opting for the minimalist set of the 1996 original that that put Corcadorca on the map and launched the careers of Cillian Murphy and Eileen Walsh, the play is performed on a stage within a stage – a nod, perhaps, to Walsh’s subsequent repertoire of characters doomed to continually act out their stories in an effort to understand themselves.
The stage is emblazoned with a sheet bearing the title of the play. Behind long net curtains are a male and a female mannequin that are used to convey characters and are also mined for body parts. The set is kitsch with a large number ‘17’ sparkling on the back wall, a reference to the birthday that Pig and Runt share and are celebrating in an excessive way. This includes knocking back alcohol, hopping into a taxi for a trip to Crosshaven and dancing manically to pulsating techno music.
Set in the fantasy Kingdom of Pork, presided over by the energetic duo, the characters speak in their own private language. It’s a language that was written for a sing-song Cork accent, with its colloquial references.
In this production, Ciarán Owens as Pig manages a reasonable Cork accent (he was reared in the UK). Amy Molloy, as Runt, struggles with the accent at times, but she succeeds in portraying a complex character who wants to break out of her claustrophobic relationship with Pig.
While he wants their friendship to become sexual, Runt is conscious of a wider world, a different way of living. The pair seems inextricably bound to each other, having been born within seconds of each other. But Runt grows up quicker than Pig. Pig is a ball of potentially explosive fury coupled with unexpected tenderness.
Twenty years after the original was performed, Walsh’s evocative language still stands out as most memorable feature of this production.
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