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THE AGE: The Long Pigs – Review

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See article in its original context here by Cameron Woodhead for The Age.

Rating: ★★★★

The Long Pigs is an hour of clowning with a dark and dangerous vibe, elegantly designed and devised by some of the brightest talents on Melbourne’s independent theatre scene.

Clowns can be a source of horror as well as hilarity. Without cruelty there is no festival, as Nietzsche put it, and the climax of this show certainly bears out his maxim.

The ”long pigs” of the title are a troupe of three black-nosed clowns (Clare Bartholomew, Derek Ives and Nicci Wilks). They look mean, and soon begin to reveal genocidal tendencies, unveiling the drapes on a complex production line that smushes up and cans the red-nosed juices of their innocuous, fluffy cousins.

It’s the clown equivalent of ethnic cleansing, though within the sociopathic frame there’s a fair bit of traditional slapstick and briskly choreographed knockabout comedy.

They never last long. Jethro Woodward’s morbid, suspenseful soundtrack keeps dragging us back from the lighter side of the carnivalesque into the shadows, and given the piece is inspired by the darkest of human impulses – to ostracise, hate, torture and kill – the comedy tends to be savage and grotesque.

In one sequence two of the clowns crucify the third in parody of the passion of Jesus (a broken tambourine for the crown of thorns). A As the violence escalates, Anna Tregloan’s set, full of visual reveals, unleashes one last absurd and sinister surprise.

Superior physical performance, sharp direction, outrageous humour and intelligent design make this a dark-hearted jewel.


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