The Boy Who Kicked Pigs @ Pleasance Courtyard
One nasty little boy gets what’s coming to him in an adaptation of Tom Baker’s twisted morality tale.
Robert Caligari is a sick, twisted little boy stuck in a boring English town populated with a variety of grotesque individuals. He likes to kick pigs, mainly because it annoys his porcine obsessed sister, but hopes to make an upgrade to murderer one day. Spurred on by his sister’s piggy bank Trevor, he decides to make his first kill, but bad little boys always get their comeuppance.
The brilliantly named Kill The Beast theatre company bring with them this demented and equally brilliantly named play based on a Tom Baker story (yes, that Tom Baker) that’s ideal for every big kid who read Roald Dahl and wished he was crueller to his characters. The show opens with a kick and the pace never lets up for the entire running time, delivering the often extremely dark laughs thick and fast as the four actors switch between the weird and wonderful residents of Robert’s dusty English home town. Set to a monochromatic backdrop with German expressionist stylings, the overall mood is The League of Gentlemen meets Hammer Horror with a detour through Willy Wonka’s nightmare tunnel. Indeed, the story has a sketch comedy feel to it and, as such, some characters are barely given time to register, although they do elicit many laughs. There isn’t much of a narrative to speak of (not a surprise given how short the source material is) but Kill The Beast do an excellent job in keeping the momentum going.
Deliciously twisted, loaded with gags and populated with the kind of creatures Tim Burton created in his prime, The Boy Who Kicked Pigs is an inventive and irresistibly enjoyable subversion of morality tales. It’s short on actual pig kickings (only one and we never actually see it) but the false advertising can be forgiven when the end result is this strong.