Theatre Critic and Journalist

Philip Ridley’s The Pitchfork Disney set for 2012 revival

Philip Ridley’s The Pitchfork Disney set for 2012 revival

Published in The Guardian, 17.11.2011

Philip Ridley’s The Pitchfork Disney, the play credited with ushering in the so-called in-yer-face theatre of the 1990s, will be revived on the London fringe next year, shortly followed by the controversial writer’s new play.

A new production of 1991’s The Pitchfork Disney, which startled critics with its cockroach-eating and dreams of bleeding phalluses, will run at the Arcola theatre from 25 January 2012. Edward Dick, who directed the Hampstead’s recent revival of Ridley’s second play The Fastest Clock in the Universe, is set to direct the production, which has not yet announced its casting.

Speaking to the Guardian, Ridley said he was pleased about the revival: “It’s a great thrill to see it back on the fringe, hopefully still alive and kicking and scaring the shit out of people.”

He explained how the play, which was initially dismissed as over-the-top fantasy by some critics, has proved prophetic: “A lot of what I was dealing with has come to pass. In The Pitchfork Disney, Cosmo Disney’s job is eating live insects for entertainment and now we have it every night on I’m a Celebrity.”

In March 2012, Ridley’s latest play, Shivered, will open at the Southwark Playhouse, which presented his critically acclaimed Tender Napalm last year.

Labelled in the text as “a state-of-the-nation play meets a dreamtime, memory play”, Shivered explores the increasing inhumanity of a society in thrall to corporate profit and the internet. Set in the fictional post-industrial town of Draylingstowe and spanning 15 years, the play is described as “a picture of lives scarred by grief, war, casual violence and community disintegration”. Like Tender Napalm, it muddles the narrative’s chronology. Russell Bolam will direct the as-yet uncast production.

Ridley says: “What you’ve got in Shivered is a group of seven people who are – in their own ways – trying to find meaning in their lives. At the end, one of the characters cries: ‘We can’t all be hurtling through nothing towards nowhere.'”

Speaking of the Southwark Playhouse, recently awarded the Peter Brook Empty Space award, Ridley said: “I love that venue so much. It is, without doubt, one of the most exciting theatre venues in London.”

Photograph: Annabel Vere

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