The Pitchfork Disney, Arcola, London
Thursday 02 February 2012
It's the twenty-first anniversary of Philip Ridley's The
Pitchfork Disney, the play that is often credited as being the started point
of the 1990s "In-Yer-Face" school of writing.
The occasion is being marked at the Arcola with a visually striking revival by Edward Dick that boasts a mesmerically powerful performance from Chris New. The play reworks the "Babes in the Wood" myth and views it through the lens of East End Gothic. Presley and Haley (Mr New and Mariah Gale) are chocoholic agarohobic twenty-eight year old twins who have become trapped in increasingly hermetic fantasies of being the sole durvivors of a nuclear holocaust, since their parents died a decade ago. Their sealed-off myth-making world is violated by the arrival of Cosmo (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett), a cocky young showbiz bobby-dazzler in a red spangly tux and no shirt. His giant of henchman goes for a more understated look, the all-over black rubber suit and mask. .
A lot has been made in the pre-publicity for this revival of the play's prescience. What had seemed fantastical back then (the notorious cock-roach eating bout) no longer no seems so gross in the sickly light of I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here) and the concept of the shut-in (people whe develop a phobia of the outside world) is a well-doucmented reality, not in the province of the freak-show. Still, it's as a play that The Pitchfork Disney stands or falls rather than as a set of cultural premonitions. And it stands up wonderfully well. Ridley taps into universal fears and anxieties though giving us (if I may presume to say so) access into a blackly comic and cockneyfied version of his own. He was a bedbound asthmatic for long stretches off his childood. In the piece it's as though all an adolescent's morbid dread of being found wanting have been magnified, through agoraphobia, into apocalyptic proportions. 281
Sweating with febrile panic in his ratty zip-cardigan and rotten-toothed from the chocolate, New brilliantly transmits the desperate feelings of inadequacy and protectiveness towards his sister that fuel Presley's protracted flights into mind-bending fantasy - of a child in a shop, say, frantically trying on suits that no longer fit and of surviving a nuclear disaster that he has himself caused. In an eye-catching if also faintly vapid portrayal, Stewart-Jarrett's Cosmo preens and taunts the former, claming to be able to shuck off one perfect skin for another with frictionless ease. The production looks terrific with the rancid little room positioned on an apron stage that juts into the Arcola's mighty brick space. Not everybody's idea of claustrophobia but immensely striking.
To 17 March
Art Piece taken off website amid 'severe security alert'
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated
tvAn expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle
artLee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist
Arts & Ents blogs
- 3 The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
- 4 Phil Neville backtracks on Tomas Rosicky 'I'd smash him' comments from Match of the Day 2
- 5 SAG Awards: Fake applause track interrupts Reese Witherspoon
Mr Selfridge series 3: Actress Kara Tointon says 'we're starting to see his demise'
Ed Sheeran texts Noel Gallagher to offer him tickets after Wembley Stadium rant
Benedict Cumberbatch says Hollywood is better for black British actors
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
Game of Thrones season 5: IMAX releases new trailer with first look footage of Tyrion Lannister
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
George Galloway condemns 'racist, Islamophobic, hypocritical rag' Charlie Hebdo at freedom of speech rally
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks