Dir: Eve Nicol, Tron Theatre, 25th-28th March
The Pitchfork Disney is already an ‘uncomfortable’ play. When you add good direction and good performances into the mix, ‘uncomfortable’ doesn’t come close to describing this play.
The story follows the events of a night in the home of Presley and Haley, two agoraphobic, neurotic and naïve 28 year olds who rely on chemical cocktails and chocolate to bring them some small measure of peace. Into this already unsettling scene comes the even more unsettling Cosmo Disney and, later, his hulking partner Pitchfork Cavalier; two showmen who’ve made a business of revelling in the grotesque.
Phillip Ridley’s script was already a disturbing affair, but the performances made the already dark tone as black as soot at times. Lucy Goldie and Alan MacKenzie play well off of one another and do well in selling the pseudo-sexual, childish glee of the two siblings. Once Alan Humpage makes his entrance as Disney the real thrust of the play kicks off with a performance that is equally sexually charged and loaded with machismo confidence – it’s not a stretch to buy into Disney as a murderous, narcissistic, Adonis.
Eve Nicol’s direction lent itself to the nightmarish narrative, with lingering moments loaded with tension (particularly in the interactions between Disney and an unconscious Haley). The set design was simultaneously pristine and menacing, with a relatively sparse space containing only a sofa, which was crammed with a seemingly endless supply of props and chocolate, doused in red. Red sofa, red jacket for Disney, red everything really, the colour pallet was simple and effective.
The entrance of Patrick Stratford as Pitchfork was perhaps the only part that left me somewhat put out. Stratford’s performance was fine but the character just seemed out of place within the scene, like there was nothing to do, though perhaps that was supposed to be the point and Pitchfork exists simply to do nothing but threaten through his sheer size and the sinister sack he wears over his supposedly deformed face. There was possibility of something awful occurring. All the same, I wish Pitchfork had received the same attention to detail in terms of his presence within the scene that Presley and Disney did.
All told, whilst being made deeply uncomfortable, I was riveted by the performances as much as the script and the piece as a whole is to be commended for bringing about a little slice of real human horror.