By: Philip Ridley
Directed by: Jeffry Stanton
Presley: Fred Geyer
Haley: Aislinn Kerchaert
Pitchfork Cavaliere: Mark Lancaster
Cosmo Disney: Kevin Webb
OVER THE TOP – SHOCK AND AWE
A piece of dialogue from “The Pitchfork Disney” is “The world is a sewer”. This brief statement captures the perspective, that the British-born playwright, Philip Ridley, takes for his play. The play would be truly worthless, if it were not for his very rich and creative dialogue, along with a young and extremely talented cast. There are marvelous descriptions of too many visions, but like any over indulgence, after awhile some will push it away.
For the first half of the play, Haley (Aislinn Kerchaert) and twin brother, Presley (Fred Geyer) share stories, dreams, memories and fears. Pitchfork begins with a lengthy pre-occupation with the eating and discussing of chocolate, showing their childlike level of concern for each other. The story telling goes on and on with no particular thread, but keeps your attention offering some understanding of these two dysfunctional child/adult characters. After Cosmo Disney (Kevin Webb) carries the ugly into their home, chaos turns to darkness, and he uses almost military-like coercion to intimidate the childlike Presley.
In these wickedly demanding roles of corrupted or never fully developed individuals, all three main actors are so emotional and convincing, that I would look forward to seeing them in future productions. The occasional lapse of British accent did not deter from the acting, and the accent did not even seem totally necessary.
In keeping with the ambiance of the play, the set is more than chaotic disarray, and symbolizes the over-the-top approach used in this drama. It exceeds the necessary to show confusion and filth, and it crowded the actors’ stage movements. They appeared a little too cautious about where they walked, fell or climbed…a distracton to some scenes.
When Pitchfork grows darker, the actual and verbal images pile up one after the other, losing some dramatic value. For example among others, we see the ingestion of a vile food by American standards…projectile vomiting…and descriptive dialogue on homosexual sex practices. Not every human action needs to be seen or vocalized publicly. The play is one hour and 50 minutes with no intermission…too long for such unrelenting topics.
Pitchfork reminded me of a film 12 years ago, “Requiem for a Dream”. The repulsive violence was so extreme and prolonged that my friend and I began laughing. We no longer could take it seriously and wondered, what will they do next to shock us?
Literature from Interrobang Theatre Project states that the theatre “…poses muscular questions. Navigating through the dark together with our audience we attempt to arrive at new understandings and fresh perspectives of who we are and the world in which we live.” I did not walk away with a fresh perspective, but that is not to say that others might. Symbolism abounds in The Pitchfork Disney , but the long journey through it with only a slight redemption at the end may only be worthwhile for a few.
Date reviewed: February 8, 2014
Performances at: Athenaeum Theatre (Upstairs Theatre)
2936 N. Southport Ave.
Chicago, IL 60657
Performances: February 9, 2014 – March 2, 2014.
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturday at 8:00 p.m.; Sundays at 3:0 p.m.
Regular Run Tickets are $18-20 Students & Industry $12 with ID).