On the coldest New York City day in years, I trudged through puddles and dredges of leftover sleet on a journey to Cork City, Ireland. Disco Pigs, at Irish Repertory Theatre, immediately settles you into this scene – the thick lilt of the Cork accent is distinct, and the characters who speak with it have further crafted their own intimate language. Pig and Runt (whose real names are Darren and Sinead) speak a crafted dialect that only best friends know how to. It becomes very clear that theirs is a language – and world – created solely for each other.
It takes a while to settle into the cadence of their voices, then. Listening feels like climbing a ladder, each word a step onto a higher rung. It’s dizzying, though the confusion that arises is exhilarating. As each line of dialogue whizzes by, you finally begin to piece yourself into their world. Pig and Runt are like twins – born on the same day, in the same hospital. They’ve grown up as next door neighbors, snorting and oinking at each other since they first gave each other their nicknames as young kids. Their city of Cork is (dis)affectionately called Pork, and together they recklessly tear through it, playing off each other’s manic energy.
This is all well and fun for the most part. At the height of the Disco-era, these two mostly spend their time dancing, which makes for some unbelievably entertaining club scenes. (A sidenote: the music choices had me indulging in some guilty-pleasure seated dancing.) Yet, there is a volatile pulse undercutting each scene as the play pushes forward, no matter how innocent the club scenes may appear on the surface.
As Pig and Runt inch toward their 17th birthday, there are some sexual and personal awakenings taking hold. This, coupled with the energy of their relationship – like that of a burning star – made it feel as though these two were headed toward some kind of oblivion. It was incredibly anxiety inducing, as I was certain this was going somewhere ugly. Their friendship was suddenly becoming thin – or so far changed that it would be hard to rekindle it. I gritted my teeth through moments where the two sat next to each other on stage, yet appeared to be so distant from each other despite the spatial visual.
I was left to settle in that confused, disappointing – if not heartbreaking – moment in which two people realize that perhaps they have outgrown each other as friends. Reckoning with this is a feat of its own.