Tues – Sat 7:30pm
At once it is clear that there is a touch of the bizarre about this play. The set is squalid and strewn with discarded toys and an assortment of chocolate wrappers. This is what happens when the parents leave and never come back and the children never grow up. The children here are Presley and Haley Stray, who are 28 and apparently spend their time eating chocolate and medicine and swapping stories.
This play by Philip Ridley is about their safe but cloying world being invaded by invigorating but dangerous outsiders. If this sounds intriguing then I recommend this production, as although the concept may not appeal to everyone the execution is strong.
If we hadn’t noticed it already the arrival of a third character makes it clear how decrepit Presley and Haley have become, as he bluntly remarks on his host’s breath, pallor and decaying teeth.
Not only tactless, Cosmo Disney rapidly establishes that although he may claim to be physically perfect a more unsavoury personality is hard to imagine, and not just because of his eccentric diet.
Immediately after he enters the stage he unapologetically vomits on the floor and orders Presley to clean up. This incident sets the tone for the bulk of the play as the self-obsessed Disney callously manipulates the suggestible Presley. The Pitchfork Disney is a challenging play for the audience, with insects both swallowed and regurgitated on stage and worse to come.
Perhaps this makes it more challenging still for the cast, as weak performances would make the story seem more ridiculous than surreal. Fortunately Robert Williams as Cosmo Disney has a hypnotic presence that makes Presley’s eagerness to please credible, especially given Christopher Adams’ convincingly child-like portrayal of the latter.
These two drive the plot, but Louisa Hollway’s impassioned telling of the nightmarish time she last ventured outside also deserves a mention. The Burton Taylor Studio lends itself to claustrophobia, and is the ideal choice for this production.