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|A CurtainUp Review
A Bleak House of Horrors
Pig is not a night-on-the-town show. It's a gut-wrenching, teeth-clenching drama about a family no politician will want to hold up as an example of family values. The setting is in one of those New York City working class sections in Queens that have come to symbolize urban rednecks living in cramped aluminum sided houses with handkerchief-sized lawns. The time is Labor Day 1990, four months before the Gulf War, with the return of a long-absent son the catalyst for airing the always simmering but never discussed tensions in a family that outdoes the dysfunctional family in Shepard's Buried Child. Instead of having a dark secret buried in the backyard, the son comes to the annual Robinson family barbecue to bury his own secret, a mysterious pig in a black garbage bag.
Like other dramas of disillusion and family discord this one has its share of humor, provided primarily by the family matriarch and her childless sister--and most of it harsh, for playwright Tammy Ryan's vision is, to put it mildly, grim.. Even before the house becomes dark and the two senior Robinsons make their appearance, we know from looking at Sal Perrotta's straggly backyard set that this is not a happy place. With each member of the clan we meet the depth of the family's problems become more apparent, along with the realization that their accumulated emotional baggage is going to blow up.
Of the nine people-- whose story unfolds so explosively, there are several who offer some relief from this doomed vision of contemporary life. Bernice O'Connor, the aunt, movingly portrays her love for her husband. A Hispanic neighbor, displays an admirable blend of courage, reason and fear. And Jeanann Robinson is still young to dream of literally flying--though after this barbecue she is no longer unwounded. Can she get away, and perhaps pull her sisters along with her? Go and see this uniformly well-acted and directed play and see what you think. But do it soon. Pig runs through Oct. 12th only