Whether you loved it, hated it, or didn’t see it at all, it’s clear to say that Urinetown was a huge hit when it was showing in London’s West End. This means that any other production by Greg Kotis has a high standard to live up to, and Pig Farm is a strong competitor by following with daring tactics to attract attention.
The production is set in St James Theatre, a fantastic venue with a large auditorium, which was perfect for Pig Farm as it is such a provocative play. The set is designed to look like a typical American country, almost redneck style kitchen-dining room on the large stage, and the actors used the space extremely well through the piece.
One of the first things you notice is the repetition of the letter ‘T’ in all of the character’s names. It may seem like a cheap gag at first, but it gets to the point where the ridiculousness of this repetition becomes extremely funny, and Kotis’ clever use of this doesn’t overpower the audience. I loved the naturalism in the conversations used; it always seemed to flow so easily. The plot is simple, yet engaging, as the characters’ personalities really complement each other, and the comedy is consistently witty mostly throughout. This takes a turn at the end when wit is swapped for what seems a little spoof-like at the end. This was still very funny and executed extremely well, but in my opinion the shift in humour style was quite noticeable and it would have been nice to have more of the witty humour and naturalism that we experienced through the majority of the piece.
The performances were at such a high standard. The characters all contained such depth within themselves, exploiting both likable and dislikeable traits which made them human. Erik Odom gave an excellent performance at Tim, the lovable yet foolish young man. What I loved is that he didn’t play up to being the ‘stupid one’; it was the innocence in his words that gave his character so much truth. Dan Fredenburgh is terrifying in his anger, yet shows a wholesome side at points where we still want him to be happy. Charlotte Parry’s performance as Tina was extremely watchable. She constantly had a goal throughout the piece and this was extremely clear to follow. And finally, Stephen Tomkinson carried a dry sarcasm through the piece which was very funny; he often acted as the witty punch-liner to the situations.
The comic timing through the four of them was immaculate, and they really gelled well as a cast and gave great justification to the piece. I feel as though Kotis has created a piece which is intriguing and exciting, and with a stellar cast, the show has set itself up to be a very big success.
Pig Farm is playing St. James Theatre until 21 November. For more information and tickets, see the St James Theatre website. Photo by Tristram Kenton.