THE PITCHFORK DISNEY
20/06/2013 - 29/06/2013
WHEN YOUR BAD DREAMS COME A KNOCKING
Starring Michelle Blundell, Todd Emerson, Leon Wadham and Sam Snedden.
Studded with pitch-black comedy and images of shocking beauty; The Moving Theatre Company return to Auckland with The Pitchfork Disney, playing Q Theatre Loft from 20 – 29 June.
The mysterious disappearance of their parents years earlier have led to a pair of twins in arrested development. Surviving on chocolate, barbiturates and by spinning fanciful tales of the apocalyptic wasteland that exists outside their London flat, their self-induced solitary confinement is shattered when a sinister nightclub entertainer and his lumbering, masked cohort come calling…
Set in an imagined future that increasingly reflects the present – a world of emotional isolation, infantilized adults, sexual panic, fear of foreigners and the impossibility of connection in an age of terror, The Pitchfork Disney may not be a work from this “place” but is very much a work for our anxiety ridden times.
The Moving Theatre Company has always prided itself on pursuing innovation in the staging, design, presentation and marketing of their work. The Pitchfork Disney creates a world spun with fairytales, homo-erotica, derelict landscapes, childhood hysteria and seemingly unlimited moments of theatrical beauty. Auckland audiences take on the provoking and challenging role of voyeur in this galvanizing and immersive production.
This production brings together an incredible team of cast and crew, a dynamic mix of extablished professionals and emerging performers. Director Sophie Roberts commands performers Michelle Blundell (Shortland Street, Eigengrau), Todd Emerson (Sunny Skies, Autobahn), Leon Wadham (Go Girls, Tribes, Shopping) and Sam Snedden (Private Lives, The Pride) while producers Martyn Wood and Sam Snedden combine with the likes of The Cut Collective to create a work that once again develops a newer, younger audience for theatre. The show also signals the Auckland debut of multi-award winning theatre designer Daniel Williams (Masi, Angels in America, The Tigers of Wrath) who will transform the Q Loft and invite audiences to engage with the space in a completely new way.
The debut work of multi-talented artist Philip Ridley, Pitchfork Disney was a controversial hit upon its first performance at Bush Theatre in London in 1991. Generally regarded as the play that heralded the arrival of the ‘in-yer-face theatre’ movement of the 90’s it paved the way for the acclaimed work of other playwrights including Sarah Kane and Mark Ravenhill.
Ridley’s large body of work also includes the plays The Fastest Clock in the Universe, Mercury Fur and his most recent work Shiver. Screenplays include The Krays and The Passion of Noon Darkly (which he also directed). He is the recipient of the Evening Standard Awards for Most Promising Newcomer to British Film and Most Promising Playwright, the only person to have received both awards.
Twenty-one years since it first debuted, Pitchfork Disney has lost none of its potent imagery or disturbing visions as its Auckland premiere production will reveal.
THE PITCHFORK DISNEY plays:
20th – 29th June 2013
Q Theatre Loft, 305 Queen Street, Auckland
Performs at 7pm; Extra show Friday 28th at 9.30pm
Tickets: $25.00 – $35.00 (service fees apply)
Tickets available through Q Theatre – 09 309 9771 or www.qtheatre.co.nz
Todd Emerson: Presley
Michelle Blundell: Hayley
Leon Wadham: Cosmo
Sam Snedden: Pitchfork
Sophie Roberts: Director
Daniel Williams: Set/Costume Design
Jennifer Lal: Lighting Design
Sean Lynch: Sound Design
FOR THE CUT COLLECTIVE
Ross Liew: Additional Set
Jamie Robertson: Graphic Design
Martyn Wood: Producer
Jess Sayer: Production Assistant
Angela Green: Producer
Kitan Petkovski: Marketing
Inspired production of playful thriller highly rewarding
Review by Janet McAllister 28th Jun 2013
This excellent production is a slug of rich, complex whisky on a dark and stormy night. Come up the stairs, where the ripped wallpaper has been graffitied by disturbed, creative minds, and take your shabby seat in the musty house of twins Presley (an assured Todd Emerson) and Hayley.
Artist Philip Ridley’s 1991 playful yet taut psychological thriller explores abject fascination with fragile bodies, and ushered in an era of shock dystopian British plays.
The scenario is a superior forerunner to Polly Stendham’s 2009 Tusk Tusk: innocents fend for themselves and are afraid to leave the house. In an inspired touch, director Sophie Roberts puts Hayley (the compelling Michelle Blundell) on a tricycle, evoking The Shining and its forever-juvenile twins. [More]
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Review by Matt Baker 22nd Jun 2013
It’s taken Todd Emerson seven years to mount The Pitchfork Disney, and it’s easy to see why the play stuck with him after his initial reading of it. Premiering in England in 1991, the play is considered a first in the arrival of the “in-yer-face” generation of playwrights, including Mark Ravenhill, Sarah Kane, and Anthony Neilson. Sophie Roberts’ director’s notes could not sum up the themes and background of the play more succinctly, and it is clear that she has an incredible grasp of the artistic merit of the piece and an unwavering justification as to why it deserves to be performed. It is this understanding and analysis that fleshes out the intricacies of a play which is arguably adelusional illusion of an allusion.
It takes Emerson about ten minutes to drop the gaudy facials, but once he engages in his role as brother and allows his character’s drive to motivate his actions, there is a wonderful simmering in his performance, which culminates beautifully in his dream speech. [More]
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A weighty, darkly warped night
Review by Stephen Austin 21st Jun 2013
Welcome to nuclear apocalypse circa post-Thatcherite East London. A beacon of a mansion stands in the desolate wasteland, housing two orphaned children (the aptly named Presley and Haley Stray), now in their late twenties, who survive by eating copious quantities of chocolate, recalling past family adventures and telling each other scary bedtime stories, to wile away the time before the sleeping drugs kick in. The real world, however, soon comes crashing through their front door bringing with it disturbing and devastating consequences.
Philip Ridley’s script laid a path for many young modern playwrights (notably Sarah Kane and Mark Ravenhill) with its grimly abstract approach to storytelling and is now well past its twentieth anniversary. Surprisingly, this is its first airing by any company in New Zealand. Time may have passed, but the dark themes of childlike angst cavorting with adult sensibilities in an apocalyptic nightmare of cocoa and sin, have scarce rung truer. We’ve only to step outside to realise that the garrish fears of two decades ago have become real and the pop cultural end-of-days has been and gone already.
And herein lies the genius of Daniel Williams’ production design of this particular staging. The Q Loft space is transformed the moment we enter the stairwell from street level. Grime and graffiti line the walls of ripped wallpaper and the normally stygian theatre space is transformed into a shambolic living room that has witnessed many better days and had far closer attention bestowed upon it. Theatre doors are not closed, entire space is used to maximum effect of creating the environment. Even the huge picture windows at the street end of the room are used to broaden the space and eventually create a chilling backdrop to one of the many creepy moments of the piece.
Sophie Roberts’ direction of this deeply horrific monologue-laden script lands some pretty meaty punches at our world caught up in its own narcissistic self-destruction and obsessions with disposability of culture – there’s even a dig at our own reasons for attending theatre as grotesque spectacle, that slides easily across to other modern media. She pulls nuance out of each actor’s performance from exploring the core fears inherent in each (even if one of them is masked for the entirety of his stage time) and sustains a vivid palpable tension throughout.
Todd Emerson never ceases to amaze in his breadth and bravery as an actor. Here he pushes the man-child flailings of Presley Stray into a deeply heart-breaking pathos that has us on his side from the start. His attention to the minutest of details is astounding, even while playing broader brush-stroke moments of the script. Every moment is his, owned utterly and with complete believability.
As his sister, Haley Stray, Michelle Blundell captures the vulnerability at the heart of the character and gives us the precious heart around which all of the malice that this ghastly world harbours. Her monologues are precisely delivered and controlled to the nth degree. Excellent focus as well on the upstage work while ‘sleeping’, which is always a discipline in and of itself.
Leon Wadham is slick, sleazy and utterly believable as the predatory, almost vaudevillian, Cosmo Disney. There’s a certain glide to his gait that is an assured sign of a well versed performer and he seems to relish the malicious streak at the core of the character. In lesser hands, the climactic moment of the character (and in turn the play) could become somewhat ridiculous, but Wadham finds a deeply impassioned – if pretty sick – soul to the character that makes it all so frighteningly true.
Gimp-masked, goon-like and forceful, Sam Snedden brings a great amount of physicality and intensity to Pitchfork Cavalier, Disney’s performing buddy and implied bodyguard. It’s a bit of a thankless role, but Snedden’s experience and stage presence carry even though his face is encased in leather throughout his moments on stage late in the piece.
This play is the fundamentals of nightmare housed in a Pinteresque naturalism, performed by a desperately hungry company at their height in exactly the right pitch and focus it deserves. Such a weighty, darkly warped night of theatre I have not witnessed in a very long time – perfect to stagger out into the street on a stormy winter’s night.
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