A chaotic look at war and the companionship formed between soldiers, War Pig contains some hilarious moments – but gratuitous set pieces (intended to provoke and outrage) often fell flat and disengaged the audience from the stronger clowning and narrative elements.
Le Festin de Saturne have created a provocative and grotesque performance in War Pig. A mad and chaotic look into war and the companionship formed between soldiers, the show follows the narrative of young Private Juan and Captain Fidel Castra – and the audience play witness to their homosexuality, boyish obsession with war and idiocy.
The juxtaposition of the comedic coupling – Juan (tall and lanky) and Castra (bearded and strong) – lends to the ever-evolving narrative and comedy. Their characterisations are enhanced by the traditional white faces often seen within French absurdism.
The comedy, though, tends to revolve around a fairly basic level of humour. If you like rubber chickens, fart jokes and variations of the spit take, it’s a piece for you. Having said that, the character development of Juan manages to be compelling and engaging – as the audience watch the sweet innocent boy turn into a cold-blooded killer.
War Pig contains a number of set pieces intended to provoke and potentially outrage. Although memorable and striking, I often found these a little gratuitous and to the detriment of the rest of the show, tending to disengage the audience from the stronger elements (the clowning and the narrative). As an example, a third mother figure briefly appears on stage towards the end of the piece. After spraying the two male protagonists with her breast milk, they proceed to suckle from – and then assault – her. For me, this interaction was disturbing and confusing. I’m left somewhat in the dark as to what images such as this really added to the narrative.
So although War Pig has hilarious moments, and boldly tests the limits of clowning, the moments intended to ‘provoke’ let down the production for me. Detracting attention from the elements the company excel at (the quality and innovative nature of the clowning, plus the interesting narrative), the often bizarre interludes left me and many audience members in the dark as to their intended effect – and made for a confused and inconsistent piece.