The Pitchfork Disney

Beloved former columnist ANNA ISAAC makes her return with the Tab’s second ever ‘UNCLASSIFIABLE’ theatre review.


By Philip Ridley

Directed by Robbie Aird

Corpus Playroom, 9.30pm, Tue 29th January – Sat 2nd February, £6/£5

Well, there wasn’t actually a pitchfork #slightlydisappointed but I damn nearly stabbed the reviewer in front of me. The audience was rather light and I felt sitting anywhere but the second or third row would have been strange, but this guy: middle, front row, massive fucking notepad, flapping pages and a squeaky pen. BTW I don’t care if he’s, erm, actually a good friend of yours, this guy needs a spank.

Now, the play itself requires me to provide you with the following warning: this show is not for the faint hearted, or for anyone with a particular fear of wrapping paper. Would say more, but spoilers…

The basic premise is a four-hander, with three key characters, two of whom are brother and sister, living in a crappy flat dreaming of horrors and revelling in perfect yesterdays when they still lived with their parents. Naturally the other two characters arrive one by one in order to fracture this alarming existence. At moments – normally those at which discomfort is already near maximum – bizarre images of the sacrament and unusual god-bothering emerge from their monologues.

This pair, played by Victoria Fell and Justin Wells, have a somewhat loose grip on reality, or (how does one do this when discussing fictional characters?) their reality bears little resemblance to ours. If you think I’m missing the point and it’s just surrealism or abstract, then I think you need to go and see it. It’s not like any other play I’ve seen before.

There is some good acting, and some good directorial decisions. A nice touch was to have the window hand-held rather than hung, which worked extremely well with the constant toying of perspective offered by the script. The lamps that surrounded the stage felt like sinister sentinels attempting to encroach on the action. Unfortunately they occasionally succeeded, toppling and frustrating the other props, but largely they remained well behaved and cast creepy shadows upon the playroom’s walls.

At times, the actors sold this sense of horror for horror’s sake particularly well. (I like a bit of horror, I watched Saw V last NYE and it takes the edge off being single beautifully). Cosmo Disney, as played by Max Roberts, had the kind of vile, homophobic manner you’d expect to find at the Pitt club. All former Etonian and too-tight trousers, but laced with a deeply discomforting and threatening edge. It was a highly stylized performance, but apt for such a very odd play.

The last monologue from Presley Stray (Wells) was delivered brilliantly, cutting right through the slight dip in energy suffered by this long late show. You buy into the galvanized fear and yet delight of his character. Gone was any sense of the charming boy, here was the damaged not-quite man living in a world of nightmares, chocolate and sexual deprivation.

The silent ‘Pitch’ (Johann Kamper) was the physically strongest of the cast, using his body to convey a sense of the sinister and sick that left me wondering: why was this play was written? If ‘the sick survive’, then this play is bidding for world domination. Basically, what the fuck? And worth a look. You’ll talk about it incoherently, with no mention of farmers or Mickey Mouse, for days to come.