Precisely Peter Productions debuts the UK play The Pitchfork Disney in Toronto
John Shooter of Precisely Peter Productions has imported The Pitchfork Disney from the UK, staging it in Double Double Land, a tiny upstairs space in Kensington Market. The play is about two siblings who cloister themselves in a filthy apartment, alternating between reliving their childhood memories and apocalyptic fantasizing.
Presley (Justin Miller) is slightly less agoraphobic than his sister, Haley (Nikki Duval) so they agree that he will do all the shopping in return for Haley entertaining him with a story about why she’s afraid of the outside. She tells him a wild tale about being chased by a pack of slavering dogs and climbing up a marble Jesus statue. Such storytelling permeates the show, with Presley also often embarking on long monologues detailing his addled inner life.
For most of the show Haley stays asleep on the unmade bed while Presley and Cosmo Disney (Ayinde Blake) engage in convoluted mind-games. Presley has brought Cosmo in from the street thinking he was sick — but really because Presley finds Cosmo attractive. Cosmo tortures Presley about his sexuality, leers at sleeping Haley and demands to know what happened to their parents. He also eats bugs for a living.
Shooter’s direction is tight and the performances are strong, even if I found the characters as written grating in playwright Philip Ridley’s dogged determination to keep them disassociated from reality and entirely static. Everybody is very mentally unwell, no one gets any better (or worse), or has any realizations, or dies — nothing happens in a two hour show with no intermission.
Near the end, Cosmo’s accomplice Pitchfork (Yehuda Fisher) appears; Pitchfork seems to embody one of Presley’s nightmare figures, except that in Presley’s imagination “Pitchfork” is handsome while this Pitchfork is apparently so ugly he needs to keep his face covered — or so says the handsome Cosmo. Pitchfork wears a BDSM hood, along with a fetish outfit, which terrifies Presley but given the antics Pitchfork engages in, many at Cosmo’s demand, I expect he is supposed to seem funny to the audience. I did not find any humour in him, although by that point I was feeling woozy from being so long in hot room filled with paint fumes (I assume they painted the space for the show.)
Granted, the airlessness of the room did make the setting, a dank apartment strewn with clothes and candy wrappers, seem that much more claustrophobic. I would say George Quan’s set design overall was quite good, and I don’t have any reservations about the direction or acting, other than that the actors did not have the opportunity to show any range. I simply do not see the point of the script and found it tiresome.
- The Pitchfork Disney is being produced by Precisely Peter Productions at Double Double Land, 209 Augusta Ave until May 22, 2016.
- Shows run Tuesday to Saturday at 8 pm with Sunday matinees at 4 pm
- Tickets are $20 to $25
- Purchase tickets online
Photo of Justin Miller and Nikki Duval provided by the company