Lights go out. Applause begin as the actors take their bows. I notice myself mindlessly clapping, mouth open and thinking, “What just happened?” Shaken, confused and a little scared I walk out of the theatre feeling not good, bad or otherwise… just mind-blown. That’s the effect of The Pitchfork Disney.
Written by Philip Ridley, The Pitchfork Disney is an absurd play about a brother and sister who lost their parents a decade ago and live life in fear. It’s a surreal dreamlike play set in a dimly lit room with furniture scattered alongside the walls of a very long and dingy basement. Audience members sitting in the first row could easily trip an actor due to the close proximity of the space. Jamie Lloyd’s clear direction allowed the actors to transform the space into a bizarre dream. Nothing describes “in-yer- face” theatre better than The Pitchfork Disney.
George Blagden and Tom Rhys Harries were two phenomenal actors to watch up close. Blagden as Presley Stray described dreams and memories beautifully with his emotionally captivating monologues. Harries as Cosmo Disney held an air of imminence as he swept down the room. The two completely absorbed their characters– the anger, fear and pain was clear not only on their faces, but in their body language. Watching the actors up close was much more personal and had a massive effect on the mood of the entire room.
As Presley’s younger sister Haley Stray, Hayley Squires filled the room with an anxious energy and a childlike innocence. Squires spoke so quickly that the audience had to be on full alert or they’d miss a rambling about chocolate. When Seun Shote, as Pitchfork Cavalier, bursts through the door this is the point where the play went berserk. My anxiety level reached an ultimate high due to the yelling and rushed movement from one end of the room to the other. Shote towered over Blagden, his presence was terrifying.
As an audience member, all I wanted to do was make sense of the senseless. I wasn’t happily entertained; I was engrossed in the nightmare that was unfolding before me. My heart stopped when Blagden and Harries had a fight directly in front of me. The intensity level of the play heightened and I was genuinely concerned someone was about to get physically hurt.
The Pitchfork Disney is not for a general audience – it’s for those who completely and wholly enjoy confrontational and edgy theatre. The acting is superb. The space is eerily brilliant. If you’re looking for a chilling play that will haunt you for the next 24-hours in the best possible way, then you’d better pick up some tickets for The Pitchfork Disney.
Review by Aly Chromy
You know why the ghost train is so popular? Because there are no ghosts. Once you’ve learnt that you can make a fortune.
Presley and Haley have bolted their East London home against the terrors of the world. Since their parents died ten years ago, they have found comfort in chocolate, medication and fantasies of nuclear apocalypse. But, one night, Presley sees a beautiful stranger on the street outside. And while Haley sleeps, he lets their worst nightmare in.
Claustrophobic, comic and deeply unsettling, Philip Ridley’s seminal masterpiece played a revolutionary role in changing the face of British theatre when it premiered in 1991 to critical acclaim and controversy. Its exploration of ‘a climate of fear’, living in ‘alternate worlds’ and persistent thrum of sexual anxiety has continued to act as a tuning fork for the zeitgeist – a play whose relevance is forever in the now.
Step into Shoreditch Town Hall’s atmospheric basement spaces and experience this unique, immersive revival of Ridley’s debut play deep in the eerie underbelly of East London.
Shoreditch Town Hall presents
The Pitchfork Disney
By Philip Ridley
Directed by Jamie Lloyd; Designed by Soutra Gilmour; Lighting by Richard Howell
Sound by Ben & Max Ringham and George Dennis; Composition by Ben and Max Ringham
Casting by Charlotte Sutton
Cast: George Blagden, Tom Rhys Harries, Seun Shote and Hayley Squires
Shoreditch Town Hall
380 Old Street, London EC1V 9LT