The Pitchfork Disney deals with a world of contradictions: the association between repulsion and attraction, the ability to seduce and repel, the desire for knowledge and the fear of what that knowledge may bring. The show requires a willing suspension of disbelief and an embracement of the possibility that the only relevant explanation is that the entire show could be a dream sequence.
The play starts at its peak, introducing the characters of chocoholics Presley (Alan MacKenzie) and Haley (Lucy Goldie) in the midst of their typical day to day discussion-verging-on-argument which rapidly turns into full blown descriptions of Presley cooking (and eating) a snake and Haley escaping a gang of seven vicious dogs by climbing a crucifix and kissing the face of Christ (who apparently tastes like chocolate). Isolated and abandoned by parents whose deaths are never clearly explained, Presley and Haley’s existences have spiralled into a life of gluttony and a fascination for fear and pain. The arrival of entertainer Cosmo Disney shakes things up for the twins and causes Presley to question his existence in many ways.
MacKenzie and Goldie impress as the isolated twins. Their truthful portrayals of the vulnerable characters are almost frightening and, at times, unsettling. Eve Nicol’s design is simple: a red leather couch surrounded by red and silver streamers. The shimmering background draws links to Presley and Haley’s imaginative lifestyle and the dreamlike state of the entire show but also proves a nuisance as dramatic character entrances falter somewhat when actors have to shake themselves free from the clinging fabric. Callum Smith’s lighting successfully provided some tension to scenes but the placement of bright lights were eye catching and, on occasions, distracting.
The main flaws of The Pitchfork Disney are not within this production, but with the play itself. The ideas are solid and daring – the notions that humans thrive on fear and seek out thrills are dominant throughout however the play fails to put this notion into action. There are no thrills or chills for the audience and, as a result, the play drags for the middle section, evident from the increasing number of restless audience members and strains to check the time on wrist watches. The play revives slightly with the arrival of Pitchfork Cavalier (Patrick Stratford), who provides the only graphical representation of fear or repulsion.
Ridley’s script shows elements of truth and enlightenment but these are practically eclipsed by repetition which becomes increasingly monotonous and obvious. Haley’s ‘journey home’ monologue and Presley’s ‘nightmare’ monologue stand out as the most inspired and memorable sections of the show however the show fails to impress as a whole.
The Pitchfork Disney can easily be summarised by six words. As audience members filed out of the Changing House, one man turned to another and chortled “I told you it was weird.”