We are all aware, at some level of consciousness, of the thousand, one hundred, and eighteen officially missing women in this country. Ordinarily this would not be a subject to warm up to at the butt end of January. Pig Girl (by Colleen Murphy, directed by Micheline Chevrier) defies all the odds and delivers a monumental piece of theatre that simply must be seen. Colleen Murphy has conjured a magic which only theatre can deliver. The play actually gives an emotional specificity to the woman who is kidnapped, to the serial killer, to the policeman and the woman who is trying in greater and fiercer desperation to find her sister.
The play is orchestrated to perfection by Micheline Chevrier, who managed to direct the rhythm of this piece in such a manner that one is almost holding one’s breath through the entire compelling experience. There is a kind of mesmerizing quality to the performances that forces one to look and to feel even the most painful moments.
Renaltta Arluk delivers a spectacular persona who is defiant and courageous throughout the most horrendous of situations. She is most certainly no victim, but a warrior, and heroine. Julie Tamiko Manning gives a fantastic nuanced and heart rending performance as Sister. When she describes the limits of pleasure in her sibling’s life as a prostitute, she claims that a coffee, a tiny circle of friends, and drugs, might seem a puny life to some, but that this was her sister’s life, and she must be allowed to live it. By the time she delivers this line everyone has been won over, even the intransigent bureaucratic police officer with whom she is pleading.
Marcello Arroyo is a fantastic Police Officer and takes us on his journey through indifference, impatience to empathy and finally rage. Graham Cuthbertson was magnificent as the somewhat mentally challenged pig farmer. He gave such a subtle and perfectly calibrated performance that his humanity was finally believable.
At the talk back after the play, (this will continue to be a feature of the run,) Murphy said that theatre is the perfect medium to inspire a national conversation about the issue of violence against women because “a playwright can speak to the dead, and you can make the dead speak.”
It was also mentioned that this is an effect of our colonial history, and that if these women were white, rich, or famous, this could not happen, and their plight would not have been ignored for so very long.
The most extraordinary thing about the play was the simple drama it delivered, like a Greek tragedy, it was brilliant and relentless. Imago Theatre has decided on a Pay What You Think, or Can, policy. They ask the audience to give their money after seeing the play. I simply did not have enough money on me to give what I really thought it merited. Go, and brave the cold for this immensely courageous and moving piece of theatre.
Pig Girl is playing at the Centaur Theatre until February 6. PWYC or $15/10 to reserve in advance. Showtimes and tickets HERE.