Disco Pigs: Interview with director Cathal Cleary

Ahead of Disco Pigsrun at The North Wall next week, writer Catherine Love speaks to director Cathal Cleary about his revival of the show, which he first directed at the Young Vic four years ago.

Director Cathal Cleary describes the plays of Enda Walsh as “about people using their imagination to make better versions of reality”. In Disco Pigs, those people are Pig and Runt: two 17-year-old best friends from Cork whose shared fantasy existence is beginning to crumble. Walsh’s play follows their intense friendship as it comes under increasing pressure from the outside world.

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Cathal Cleary in rehearsal

Cleary’s production, which he is now remounting for a tour of the South East, highlights the imagination and performance of Walsh’s two distinctive characters. “They are creating a fictional world for themselves,” says Cleary. “That’s what we tried to unleash within our production, making it these two teenagers stuck in recreating this play for themselves over and over again. Pig and Runt are the characters, but Darren and Sinead are their real names, so it feels as though Darren and Sinead are playing two parts and are endlessly stuck in this cycle of playing these roles and creating this fantasy world for themselves.”

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Photo credit: Richard Davenport

Cleary stresses that Disco Pigs is “an exciting, brilliantly written play”, but part of the appeal for him was that it leaves room for a “director’s stamp” to be put on it. “I don’t worry about productions that have gone before,” he says, explaining that “you have to treat any play like a new play”. Unlike previous stripped back productions, Cleary worked closely with designer Chloe Lamford on his version, creating a visual world for the show that fits with his interpretation of the play as being about the vivid imaginations of its two protagonists.

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Photo credit: Richard Davenport

Cleary is now looking forward to seeing how the show will go down with audiences on tour. “It will feel quite foreign, quite intrusive upon these more traditional types of venues,” he suggests, adding “I think that’s great that these two quite odd kids from Cork are landing in Didcot and Cambridge and Hertford and being quite exciting, quite threatening and in your face. I think that will take people by surprise and I think they’ll go for it.”

Disco Pigs will be performed at The North Wall on Wednesday 25 November at 8pm. Click here to book tickets.

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