While the name Disney is usually associated with innocence, the play “The Pitchfork Disney” does not back down in confronting the most complex and disturbing issues of the human condition.
“The Pitchfork Disney,” English playwright Philip Ridley’s 1991 debut work, is a play comprised of one uninterrupted conversation between two adults, Presley Stray, who is obsessed with childhood, and Cosmo Disney, who claims to have never experienced childhood before. When Cosmo invades the secluded fantasy world of Presley and his twin Haley Stray, both of whom live off of only chocolate, he manipulates the brother and later assaults the sister. The misleading innocence of youth does not undercut the play’s confrontation of disturbing topics, such as drug overdose as well as physical and emotional abuse.
“I think this script is very meaningful and certainly makes people think deeply about problems in society,” said Karina Xie ’19, stage manager for the show. “I wanted to put this show up to engage more with the fascinating themes of the play and call attention to some of the very problems in society this play reveals.”
She said that the play, directed by Noah Konkus ’18, is centered on the themes of storytelling, toxic masculinity and fear. Both Haley and Presley are agoraphobic, unwilling to and fearful of interacting with strangers, using their own childhood fantasy to keep reality outside of their lives.
Xie added that the technical aspects of the play — the lights and sound — all served to enhance the actors’ performance. She said that the show’s lighting designer Sunny Miao ’20 used LED lights to create a strobe light effect.
Co-producers Gillian Fu ’20 and Vignesh Namasivayam ’20 said in an email to the News that the play contains content related to disturbing topics including incest, homophobia and murder. They noted that Ridley’s text confronts and challenges the cultural norms that have promoted the existence of these problems.
“As the play progresses, Cosmo prods and manipulates Presley, revealing the darker layers underneath his flawless outer shell,” Fu and Namasivayam said in an email to the News. “Meanwhile, Presley’s curiosity about his new friend brings him closer and closer toward confronting the source of everything he is afraid of.”
The play premiered last Thursday at 8 p.m. in the Hopper Cabaret and was performed four more times last week — once on Thursday and Friday and twice more on Saturday.