York Theatre Royal’s TakeOver Festival has been brilliant – it’s been full of fantastic pieces of theatre and has allowed young people the opportunity to see inside the inner workings of the theatre and gain some invaluable experience. To top the festival off, theatre company Kill The Beast delivers an absolutely hilarious theatrical punch with its stage adaptation of Tom Baker’s novel The Boy Who Kicked Pigs.
The Boy Who Kicked Pigs is the story of the naughty and twisted 13-year old Robert Caligari, who one day decides he’s had enough of his sister’s annoying antics and kicks her piggy bank, named Trevor, into the back of a fishmonger’s van. The van crashes and causes some real chaos, and Robert delights in this, so much so that he gleefully calls himself a murderer and hides away in his secret lair at the bottom of a tree stump in the local graveyard. Eventually, his sister comes and finds him, and Trevor suddenly starts talking to him, telling him that if he’s a true murderer, he has to commit a truly brutal act and witness it first-hand. Robert squeals with delight, obtains a crossbow and shoots a woman on horseback on the motorway, and causes a massive pile-up. Pleased with himself, Robert vows to kick Trevor once more, but this time, he gets what was coming to him all along and pays the price. Interspersed throughout this whole wacky narrative are small scenes containing commentary from the town’s equally wacky characters that provide substance for the world of the play, along with a huge amount of laughs.
I know what you’re probably thinking that this plot is a bit weird, and may be assuming the play’s a bit weird in general – and I’m able to say that it is very weird. But Kill The Beast has produced a brilliant show here; the company work incredibly well together. They manage to convey a wide range of madcap characters with distinct personalities, as well as maintain the energy throughout the production. The audience never stops laughing, with scene after scene delivering brilliant deadpan and colourful humour that never grows tiring.
The production is also beautifully designed, in a pretty grotesque way. The characters’ costumes are grimy and ragged, and their makeup looks like something you’d see from a Tim Burton film. In fact, the whole production has this darkly awesome aesthetic, with cel-shaded projections popping up on a screen at the back of the stage throughout to give a sense of time and place for each scene. The set itself is minimalistic, with only a few chairs being used to create a variety of different spaces.
The Boy Who Kicked Pigs is easily one of my favourite pieces of theatre that I’ve seen this year, and Kill The Beast has really nailed it with this production. It’s funny, dark and incredibly well put together. I highly recommend you go and see this show, whether you’re a theatre student or someone looking for a good evening out – you’ll love this.
The Boy Who Kicked Pigs was part of York Theatre Royal’s TakeOver Festival. For more information, see the TakeOver Festival website.