This year the James Menzies-Kitchin Award moves from BAC to the Young Vic, where Cathal Cleary directs Enda Walsh's 1996 play Disco Pigs in the Clare. A two-hander, it features Cork teenagers Darren aka Pig (Rory Fleck-Byrne) and Sinead aka Runt (Charlie Murphy) who were born seconds apart in the same hospital, and became inseparable friends to the point of excluding much of the rest of the world. As the audience enters the two appear to be young children, running around a messy living room still decorated in tatty 1970s styles (designed by Chloe Lamford) but very soon after the play starts we zoom through their lives to their 17th birthday. There's still something childish about them though but it soon gets infected with something sinister as well, there's something violent in their makeup, especially Pig's, and their favourite game "the pig dance" involves tricking and beating up a stranger. Despite their insistence that they're like brother and sister, Pig's feelings for Runt are becoming sexual. He thinks she feels the same but in fact she's starting to want to free herself from their mutually dependant relationship, and this can't end well. As the two tell the story of their wild night celebrating their birthday, Walsh shows that they can't go too far without encountering an IRA supporter or some other sign of Ireland's violent history; never at the forefront of the story though, this seems more a suggestion of what kind of backdrop might have contributed to Pig and Runt being as fucked up as they are.
The two actors are very impressive, making you like the characters which makes their occasional outbursts into horrific violence especially uncomfortable when they come. A pair of shop window dummies play all the other characters as manipulated by these two, suggesting perhaps how they don't quite understand there's a real world outside of the two of them. The JMK is a directing award and Cleary has wound the duo up into whizzing balls of energy that don't seem to stop for the 67 minutes' (the front of house staff were very specific) running time, Fleck-Byrne in particular soaked with sweat even before he starts spilling drinks over himself. The only real downside is that when the characters lapse into particularly strong Cork dialect it's easy to miss some of what they're saying. Overall, the show's entertainment value brings its harsher points home even more, and it's an interesting look into how the heads of some pretty disturbed people might work.
Disco Pigs by Enda Walsh is booking until the 24th of September at the Young Vic's Clare.