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Review: Theatre

The Pitchfork Disney

The Pitchfork Disney

Tron Theatre, Glasgow

Keith Bruce

Things became much darker in the Tron's upstairs Changing House space with the arrival of the first production from new Heroes Theatre company and a revival of Philip Ridley's debut drama - despite a set curtained in glittery streamers, not unlike a strip club, and the Willy Wonka jacket sported by Stephan Humpage's Cosmo Disney.

In fact there is much about Ridley's play that is a darker take on Dahl, from the chocolate obsession of orphan twins Presley and Haley Stray (Alan MacKenzie and Lucy Goldie) to the fantastic fables that all three characters weave - just as clear are the echoes of the Brothers Grimm's Hansel and Gretel.

These monologues have become drama school party-pieces since 1991, and the skill of Eve Nicol's production is in harnessing her cast's fine performances of them into one flowing coherent whole. Ridley has honed his technique since then, as shown in Gemma Whelan's masterly Dark Vanilla Jungle, recently returned to the Traverse after its Pleasance Fringe run last year, but the brilliance of his storytelling and uncanny ability to mix innocence and brutality in the most unsettling fashion was fully-formed over two decades ago.

What is very clear in Nicol's production, and these performances (completed by Patrick Stratford's appearance as Pitchfork Cavalier, here a disturbing grubby gimp figure) is how ahead of his time Ridley was in addressing concerns of homophobia and paedophilia that obsess us even more today.

And there is a terrifying timelessness to this disturbing world that makes you wonder if the post-bomb nuclear winter we once feared and the horrorshow of Burgess's Clockwork Orange may not, in fact, have stealthily come to pass.

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