The Pitchfork Disney by Philip Ridley
The Guild Theatre
Presented and peformed by: ThInc
Theatre at its best makes you think. It makes your mind reassess the world that you are a part of both inside and outside the theatre. The Pitchfork Disney is one such play. There is a wonderful absurdist craft to the writing but with this production it was the performances and the direction that really lifted the show and dumped it down the audience's throat.
Integral to the success and the experience of this piece of theatre was the set. (At the preview show there was no program organised so I am not sure who designed the space - but whoever did, congratulations!) It was intimate and forced the audience to become trapped as part of the twisted environment created by Presley and Hayley.
A strength in the direction of this production was to highlight the constant ambiguity of the script. Justin Nott and Danielle Asciak made a very clever decision not to judge the twins and ground them in a particular reality but left their reality constantly open to interpretation. Are they mad, certainly. But are they mad within a contemporary/ Dystopic future/Post-apocolyptic/ Nightmare world? Previous productions (according to online reviews) have positioned the characters in the very real London Eastside in a crummy flat. This may well be suggested in the script but it is much more theatrically interesting to not take this option, especially as the only snippets of the outside world we experience are filtered through the characters on stage.
This ambiguity increased the tension as the play progressed. It added another layer to the words of the script. For it seemed that it was not a conincidence that Cosmo Disney and Pitchfork Cavalier invade the home of a boy who dreams of the murdering Pitchfork Disney. It seems that it might be destiny, a realisation of the nightmare and that Presely might be living out aspects of the dream. Or maybe the entire thing was is part of a bigger nightmare, of chocolate, dreams, cockroaches, sleeping pills, biscuits, memory and 'medicine.'
At this point, I feel that the actors need all be congratualted. In a small cast, there is no room for anyone to be carried, and indeed no one was. I want to especially mention Chris de Pasquale as Presley completely nailing his dream monologue. It was incredible and to held on to our morbidly-fascinated attention for the entire length. WOW.
I see an awful lot of theatre and this is the most phenomenolgical experience I have ever had in a show. I experienced real horror when Hayley was violated but was at the same time forced into the curious position of not being able to look away. The aftermath of that event really was heart-thumping, even as I am writing this - my heart-rate has increased. There is a power to live theatre that cannot be underestimated. The writing and language in this work is beautiful and haunting but sometimes the humanity of the performers can be equally important.
We watch as Hayley relives the horrors of outside; we watch as Cosmo crunches cockroaches; we watch as Pitchfork stumbles as he stands on the chair; we watch Presely as he realises that he could not protect his sister and can not protect himself; and we experience The Pitchfork Disney.