The Long Pigs

Theatre Works

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Deliciously absurdist, The Long Pigs is one of the cleverest, most creative shows of the year. The three artists on stage – Clare Bartholomew, Nicci Wilks and Mozes – adhere to the adage that actions speaks louder than words. Very few words are spoken. Some sounds are made and the eclectic music bed is triumphant. As you enter the theatre, your eyes are immediately drawn to a plethora of sheeting on a broad stage. The Long Pigs starts with loud screams, a crashing sound and bells ringing.

Photos by Aaron Walker

Three dirty looking clown pigs, wearing grey and donning black noses, shuffle into view, sporting knives, an axe and a couple of buckets. They appear threatening. They start counting some things that are round and small and red – clown noses, of course. The trio is looking for balance and yet they tally only 11 – one shy of what they were after. That causes consternation.

Removing sheeting, they unveil four ladders, a giant faux hammer, a surfeit of “apparatus”, buckets and much more. It is intriguing. Just what is going on? A well-oiled production machine, involving planks, pulleys and tins – that is what. The “pigs” are in a rickety abattoir-shack, working hard on ridding the world of every last red-nose clown. Distrust and suspicion abound, as the gang turns on itself and a great deal of delightful clowning around ensues.

Recreating Jesus’ crucifixion scene has the propensity to offend some. Mind you, the overwhelming audience response is howls of laughter. So, too, when one of the clowns is strung up later in the show. Colourful fat suits and bananas are also part of the extraordinary repertoire. I have left much in abeyance because I don’t want to destroy the experience. This is a production that distinguishes itself with its points of difference.

I loved it. It is clowning at its brilliant best, the likes of which I hadn’t seen before. “Yes”, it is dark – horror meets hilarity – but since time immemorial the mere sight of clowns has been enough to put some people off. And apparently coulrophobia – an irrational fear of clown – can cause panic and nausea. Nothing to panic about here though. Rather, much to marvel at and applaud.

Clare Bartholomew, Nicci Wilks and Mozes are superb exponents of their craft. Everything about The Long Pigs is top shelf, starting with the performances and Susie Dee’s direction thereof. I couldn’t be more praiseworthy of Anna Tregloan’s inventive set design. It is ably complimented by sound design from Jethro Woodward and lighting design from Andy Turner. The show transforms and elevates the art of clowning. Hats off to the original devisor and creator of The Long Pigs, Derek Ives-Plunkett.

Lasting just an hour, it is playing at Theatre Works until 10th December, 2023.

Alex First

Alex First

Alex First believes all people have a story to tell, if only a good playwright can prize it out of them. Alex has a natural curiosity about the world and believes a strong narrative, or narrative with music, can open the door to subjects about which he knows little. Like his parents before him, theatre is his passion – a passion with emotional resonance, one that moves and excites him. He brings decades’ experience as an arts’ connoisseur to his role as a critic.
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