Review: DISCO PIGS, Alphabetti Theatre

Disco Pigs at Alphabetti, Newcastle

By: Feb. 22, 2024
Review: DISCO PIGS, Alphabetti Theatre
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Review: DISCO PIGS, Alphabetti Theatre Enda Walsh’s abrasive, poetic two-hander, Disco Pigs is a bullet-train ride of extremes. Two 17-year-olds, Pig (Ben Gettins) and Runt (Amy McAllister) are best friends born just seconds apart in the same hospital. Hurling their angst at each other (and the audience) for just under an hour, the pair navigate the throws of teendom, clinging to their friendship for dear life.

It’s a brazen and staccato dance between Pig and Runt, punctuated with razor-sharp monologues launched at an audience from every inch of the playing space. Pig’s pain is romantic, expressed through a thinly veiled battle cry for Runt’s attention. Runt deals in conflict… between the complex comfort of her lifelong friend, and the deep-set feeling that there must be something more out there for her. There’s sex, violence, and hedonism in spades, although you won’t see it on stage. Pig wants Runt; Runt wants bigger things. Happier things. Held together by the (dis)comfort of their mutual contempt, two misanthropic bulls in a china shop, their companionship inevitably burns out by the final minutes.

Review: DISCO PIGS, Alphabetti Theatre
Ben Gettins and Amy McAllister

Momentum isn’t missing from the production. Walsh’s script is delivered at pace by Gettins and McAllister and the performances are directed cleverly and energetically by Ali Pritchard, the outgoing Artistic Director at Alphabetti. Nostalgia is the shape of the sound design, with smartly deployed dance-pop intrusions enabling the right amount of sensory chaos to communicate the double-edged sword of a night out. I.e., some euphoria, some disaster. The two actors dart around a sparse, three-level set covered by theatre’s very own best friend, the Large Black Sheet. The bare-bones design leaves an appropriate amount of space for the weight of the words. McAllister is one mesmeric actor: eyes shining with frustration, anger, and the sense that Runt is set to burst at the seams. Gettins is physical and punchy, delivering emotion with feral naivety.

Overall, the production really gets the energy of Disco Pigs spot on. However, the inconsistencies in the accents are so distracting. It’s hard to get swept into the darkly beautiful current of Walsh’s poeticism for long before being pulled out again. It feels like a low-blow to deliver to two enormously talented, absolutely FIZZING actors that get so much right, but some of the magic is broken by the variations in their speech.

Disco Pigs runs at Alphabetti Theatre until 9 March

Image Credit: Benjamin M Smith


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