2012 Melbourne Fringe:
• Pig 311

Posted on 27 September 2012

Pig 311 starts with a pig and goat imprisoned on an abandoned Japanese cruiser at Bikini Atoll during the 1946 atomic bomb testing. They are awaiting their deaths. However only a quarter of the way into the show, Pig and Goat become survivors on a tropical island, time slips fluidly between 1946 and today, and many fourth walls are broken.

The playwright for Pig 311 is clearly well read. Elements of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, Orwell’s Animal Farm, and Golding’s Lord of the Flies (which is directly mentioned by one of the characters) all play a part.

Godot in particular is brought to mind as the two characters grapple with existential questions. This is important because with such close similarity, the playwright must make sure the distinctions between the two works are clear and meaningful. Otherwise, why reiterate the ideas of Godot? I felt that playwright Bill Dodsworth succeeded here. Comedians doing the same thing with other works of great literature should take note.

Don’t let the premise of this show fool you. It’s not about international relations, animal experimentation, nuclear threat, or war. Australian politics, boat people, and religion also raise their heads as topics of discussion, but only go so far before one of the characters introduces a cognitive twist and the conversation goes skittering off in a new direction. This is comedy not a lecture.

Nevertheless, the show ultimately does have a theme. At first it looks like the standard theme: death gives meaning to life. When that dramatic line is subverted by the animals’s survival, a more truthful theme emerges: relationship gives meaning to life.

Geraint Hill as Pig 311 is impressive. He has a quirky grin and a charismatic stage presence that should take him far as an actor. Samuel Macdonald playing Goat 315 provides the ideal foil to Hill. Not everyone can play an innocent well, Macdonald succeeds. Judith Dodsworth’s direction gives the show a professional polish you don’t always see at Melbourne Fringe.

I have only two nits I would pick with this show. First, they could have saved themselves quite a bit of money by not bothering with the multimedia element. It wasn’t badly done, but it didn’t add anything. Second, the marketing could use some adjustment, because Pig 311 wasn’t anything like what I expected. I expected profound and humorous, which the show was. I didn’t expect it to be as “edgy” dark given the jolly cartoon image used to promote the show. A photo of the guys in costume, perhaps in black and white, would have worked better.

Pig 311 is a remarkable work of dramaturgy. Everyone on that show from stage crew to choreographer to director and actors should be proud of their efforts. It’s also a solid piece of existentialist theatre with plenty of laughs.

Peace and kindness,

Katherine

Pig 311 Melbourne Fringe Website


1 Response to 2012 Melbourne Fringe:
• Pig 311

  • Paul says:

    I saw the preview to this show – it was hilarious!

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