stuck pigs squeal incest & sibling rivalry

keith gallasch sucked into the eisteddfod vortex

Luke Mullins, Katherine Tonkin, The Eisteddfod

Luke Mullins, Katherine Tonkin, The Eisteddfod

Luke Mullins, Katherine Tonkin, The Eisteddfod

STUCK PIGS SQUEALING’S EISTEDDFOD IS A RIVETTING, CLAUSTROPHOBIC ACCOUNT OF THE MEETING OF INCEST AND SIBLING RIVALRY. LATE ADOLESCENT BROTHER AND SISTER, ABALONE AND GERTURE, HOME ALONE (THEIR PARENTS ARE DEAD), TRAIN UP TO PERFORM MACBETH AND HIS LADY FOR THE LOCAL EISTEDDFOD (FILLING US IN, ON THE WAY, WITH A HISTORY OF THE COMPETITION). HE’S ALL HAMMY AMBITION, SHE APPEARS TO HAVE NONE. IF SHE DID HE WOULD DESTROY IT, UNDERCUTTING AS HE DOES ANY SENSE OF SELF SHE MIGHT HAVE. THERE IS HOWEVER A BOND, FORMED FROM ENFORCED INTIMACY AND THE RITUALISED GAME-PLAYING THEY HAVE EVOLVED. AND THE SEXUAL ABUSE BY THEIR FATHER—IF IT HAPPENED.

Eisteddfod climaxes with a sudden reversal, the sister winning the prize for her performance as Lady Macbeth, the brother collapsing in disbelief, begging her to “be Mum.” The sister, once happy with mediocrity, now has something more—but how much and for how long? Her words from earlier in the play stick: “I want someone to hurt me for a reason.” These children are damaged goods.

Presented in the small space of Belvoir St Downstairs with subtle miking and a clever, hinged stand-alone set-cum-stage which the performers can fold into new spaces, The Eisteddfod is seriously, viciously funny. Written and played larger than life and with a sustained theatrical intensity by Luke Mullins and Katherine Tonkin as directed by Chris Kohn, the play takes us into a world of incest where the lovers are beginning to diverge on their way to complex adulthoods, or an eternal corrupted childhood.

The Eisteddfod premiered in Melbourne in 2004 and was much admired in New York in 2005. It confirms Stuck Pigs Squealing’s radical inventiveness and the acuity and vividness of playwright Lally Katz’s imagination, yielding utterly convincing non-naturalistic dialogue, rich in humour and a revealing perversity in investigating a condition via a flight of fantasy rather than a social document.

Stuck Pigs Squealing, The Eisteddfod, writer Lally Katz, director Chris Kohn, performers Luke Mullins, Katherine Tonkin, designer Adam Gardnir, lighting Richard Vabre, sound designer Jethro Woodward; B Sharp, Belvoir St Downstairs, Sydney, June 6-24

RealTime issue #81 Oct-Nov 2007 pg. onl

© Keith Gallasch; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 October 2007