the pitchfork disney, arcola theatre (1 mar)

Cosmo Disney rains money down on Presley

A friend of mine had gone to see this and recommended it to me.  When I clicked on it to see what it was about, the promotional poster featured a picture of Nathan Stewart-Jarrett in an open red-sequinned jacket with no top on.  For those who don’t know, Nathan played Curtis in Misfits – the runner…you know, the dead fit one.  So, I thought “Hell, for £10 a ticket, why not?”

The Pitchfork Disney was written by Philip Ridley (who I am ashamed to say I had never heard of at the time) and was first given its theatre airing in 1991, so this is a really coming-of-age for the play.

Presley & Haley are 28 year old twins, living together in their run-down family home.  Something has happened to their parents, causing their disappearance (did they leave? are they dead?) and the twins live a childish existence, eating little more than chocolate, biscuits and medicine and pass the time telling each other elaborate stories.

Their dull, inane life is suddenly blown-apart with the arrival of flambouyant Cosmo Disney (Stewart-Jarrett) who literally explodes onto the stage (if you consider projectile vomit an explosion!).  Disney embodies everything they are not – he is confident, beautiful, he has presence, a life, and money – oh the money that he has.

All the time that he is in their home, he is talking to Presley, concerned that he is gay and lusting after him, showing a worryingly creepy interest in Haley who is sleeping fitfully throughout the exchange and listening to Presley’s fragmented stories of his past and his dreams.

Eventually they are joined by Disney’s ‘show partner’ – ‘Pitchfork’ is a lumbering henchman dressed in a gimp suit who is supposedly horrifically disfigured.

This was my first visit to the Arcola Theatre, which is in Dalston.  It was a nice venue – intimate, so that you really feel that you’re amongst the action, which is my favourite kind – although can lead to some rather uncomfortable viewing at times.  I do feel that the full price for the tickets (£22) would have been rather expensive for the venue. (Top price is only £18 for later bookings at Southwark Playhouse, and I far prefer the venue).

Overall, I enjoyed the play, although it was rather intense, and I kind of lost the plot towards the end!

Chris New as Presley was fantastic – a mixture of childish, protective and troubled.  He had many monologues, and one in particular must have been about 10-15mins without interruption.  This was the telling of hi nightmare of a serial killer called The Pitchfork Disney that culminated with the destruction of everything in the world as a result of a nuclear war, with just him surviving.  this was absolutely mesmerising – I was spellbound during it and felt an obscure sense of disappointment when it ended.

However, I left with my friends with loads of questions that felt unanswered – what really happened to their parents? did any of it happen? was it a dream? was this the real nightmare brought on because Presley had a sleeping pill?

The surreal scene with Picthfork felt very dream/nightmare-like but then there was another scene after it where Disney conducts some kind of bizarre sexual act on Haley that completely confused me as well – if this was some kind of dream, was it some incestuous wish of Presley’s (hardly surprising considering the exclusivity of their relationship).

Well acted, odd, thought-provoking and at times uncomfortable, I am really glad i saw it but I wouldn’t be telling everyone that this was one that they couldn’t possibly miss!

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