The Pitchfork Disney: violence meets childhood reverie and memory. Written in 1991, Philip Ridley’s graphic and beautiful script is gory, frightening and funny in a way very distinct to the usual British banter.
Moments of claustrophobia and an estrangement from any sort of everyday reality rival anything conjured by Samuel Beckett, yet despite the stagnation and the filth, we find ourselves curiously comfortable in Presley and Hayley’s world: tall tales, nightmare and adventure, where men are made of chocolate, snow falls after nuclear fallouts and the world’s ugliest man dresses in a rubber gimp suit.
Mariah Gale as Hayley – a distinctive and striking beauty, despite the make up giving her pallour, cold sores and dark circles – has a very solid history with the RSC and her talent is evident from the word go as brother and sister passionately argue about Fruit and Nut vs. Chocolate Orange. Gale leaps and scurries about the stage with all the precision and elegance of a dancer and is mesmerising as she recounts her tale of being chased by a pack of hungry dogs, climbing a church crucifix and kissing Jesus on the lips (they tasted of chocolate).
Nathan Stewart-Jarrett is Disney personified in his Bobby-Dazzler red jacket – almost too exciting and worldly for the hermetic brother and sister. Like Gale, his cat-like movements around the set are perfectly timed and executed. He has flair delivering his lines as the suave, self-assured Cosmo Disney, and his eyes gleam seductively and very menacingly as he taunts and teases Presley – the boy caught in an adult’s body.
Chris New’s portrayal of the benign and child-like Presley contrasts bizarrely and appropriately with his very manly physique. The childhood innocence then turns into something much darker during the engrossing account of his hellish nightmare of murder and mutilation. New gives every bit of himself to the performance and is hands-down the star – quite an achievement given how strong his co-stars are.
Steve Guadino makes a perfect lumbering giant with the brains of a baby. His part may be small, but how could we forget the gimp mask and brief and clumsy waltz with the sleeping Hayley.
Bob Bailey’s magnificent set and Malcolm Rippeth’s evocative lighting create the insular, airless environment of the twin’s decrepit living room – the only thing they have seen for a decade. The stage is the right shade of brown to mask half a lifetime of biscuit crumbs, the front door is smashed and duct-taped, and lighting creeps up from the chasm underneath the stage.
The Arcola is the Donmar’s sexier, tear away younger sister… with just as many brains. The Pitchfork Disney will be a show one remembers forever and its actors ones to follow closely in the future.
The Pitchfork Disney must be seen. With tickets at only a tenner there’s no reason not to. Until 17th March 2012.