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There's nothing Disney about this intensely disturbing play
The Pitchfork Disney, created by Philip Ridley, first taking to the stage in 1991 in London, is hitting the stage at the Sidetrack Theatre. Directed by Rachel Chant, it's here for a short run but a good run. Eclective Productions presents this bizarre and highly disturbing exploration into the dreamlike world of Haley and Presley, two agoraphobic and clearly unhinged 28 year old siblings.
Haley (Jessi LeBrocq) and Presley (Brett Johnson) are self-imprisoned in their unkempt home where they share their existence together but otherwise alone. Becoming unbalanced after their parents disappeared from their lives at 18, their exact fate never explained. The twins live in a surreal state of childish fantasy, self-medicating when necessary and surviving only off chocolate, biscuits and cups of tea. The type of chocolate bought is a contentious issue between the siblings, with that becoming all too clear when an irrational argument erupts between them over a fruit and nut bar.
Haley begins to tell a story from her past, filled with fear, terror and unresolved anxiety. The unsettling and frenzied recount opens your eyes to where a small part of her madness stems from. To soothe his sister, Presley then tells a tale of his own while gazing out the window.
From their window, Presley can see down to the street. He sees two men, one man seemingly in pain, clutching at his stomach and sitting in the gutter. Haley becomes frantic at the thought of her brother wanting to help these strangers and needs restraining, which Presley achieves with a small drop of Mummy and Daddy's medicine. Presley then leaves the house and soon returns with the apparently ill man, who promptly throws up on the lounge-room floor.
He's an intriguing fellow, handsome, vivacious, clever. Presley takes a liking to him immediately, enamoured by his confidence. He introduces himself as Cosmo Disney (David Molloy) and it is discovered that he is a showman who eats cockroaches for a living, thus the throwing up. It's not just cockroaches he eats though, he have a go at whatever critter his sickly amused audience wants. Presley's attraction to Cosmo leaves him open to manipulation and he is soon telling him of a recurring nightmare that haunts him. The nightmare is about a serial killer, called The Pitchfork Disney.
After his explicitly detailed telling of the terror he encounters when he sleeps, they are interrupted by the honking of a car horn. It's Cosmo's business associate, Pitchfork Cavalier (Darren Pinks). A gimp-mask wearing, apparently mute and imposing man. A brief performance ensues and soon after, Cosmo suggests Presley take a trip with Pitchfork to get some more chocolate, his shout. Leaving Cosmo alone with Haley and feeling unsettled by that, he returns abruptly and happens upon an incident between the two.
It all comes to an end with the siblings expressing their questions, queries and most importantly their fears.
This is not a play to take lightly. It is hugely intense, confronting, dramatic and fiercely impassioned. It creates a surreal environment leaving you to decipher fantasy from reality. As you can probably gather by now, it is not for children as the "Disney" in the title may suggest. It will draw you in, possibly shock and definitely impress. The majority of the play consists of highly detailed, extended monologues, which is something I wasn't used to, but it really encourages you to become deeply involved in the characters.
I couldn't fault any of the actors, the performances they gave would have been gruelling work to give, which just highlights their talent. A definite favourite for me though was David Molloy as Cosmo. He was so natural, engaging, hilarious in a not so hilarious setting and just simply captivating. If you've got the stomach and the inclination for a gut-wrenching production, then I'd catch this one while you can.