As a people, Trinbagonians cannot survive prolonged periods of time without their regular hefty servings of bacchanal. RR/RS Production’s ‘Dis Little Piggy is Tired’ is a clever capitalization on this insatiable need, taking inspiration from the most recent scandals involving a certain Tobago politician and his salacious entanglements. I attended the opening show at National Academy for the Performing Arts on Saturday March 11th, and was treated to some of the well-established production house’s most risqué content yet.
The play centres on Solomon (Andrew Friday), the titular “little piggy” who is a depressed fifty-something year old in the middle of a messy divorce, yet he just can’t seem to let go of his womanizing ways. His faithfully married best friend, James (Jayron Remy), and James’ headstrong wife, Evelyn (Zo Mari Tanker), grow tired of Solomon’s complaints and try to help him get unstuck by setting him up with Lily (Leslie Ann Lavine), a mature, free-spirited psychologist they met on a cruise. Simultaneously, Solomon becomes increasingly entangled with Maria (Kala Neehal), the twenty-something year-old pregnant, vulnerable, vaguely Venezuelan woman who happens to live in his building. Solomon is “tired” out in the play as he struggles to make the tough choice between a stable, mature relationship and a spicy, illicit affair.
With his black-rimmed glasses and thick gold chain, Friday’s mannerisms and body language solidified the visual reference of Solomon to the Tobago politician enough to almost convince that it was actually the person in question on stage at times. As expected, the many jokes peppered throughout the play that jab at the muse for Friday’s character generated hearty laughter from the audience without fail. For example, Solomon quipping, after a saucy session of sex, that he hadn’t exercised that much since he tried to swim from Tobago to Trinidad had the audience doubled over. On that point, the frontrunners for memorable moments in “Dis Little Piggy” must be the unexpectedly provocative sex scenes. With the lights dimmed to show only silhouettes under the cover of bedsheets, the actors really put their backs into moans and movements to make the audience blush and laugh in between.
With only minor hiccups here and there, the overall acting was superb, as expected. Friday embodied the lead well, capturing the charisma and problematic nature of such men convincingly. Solomon would prove to be a thoroughly unpleasant character, calling on every ounce of Friday’s charisma as an actor to keep the audience invested as he audaciously fulfilled the wasteman archetype and hit self-destruct on his own love life. The decision to include a couple of moments between acts where Friday could break the fourth wall as Solomon and confide in the audience with all the familiarity of old friends was a nice touch that would have had a greater impact, had the audience interaction been more successful.
Lavine’s turn as Lily was also impressive. She brought Lily’s sex-positive, bombastic side to life in the intoxicated dancing, flirting, and the very steamy, very funny voice acting for the sex scenes; and made the mature, stable, comfortable side of her character equally believable. Her interaction with the audience was also spiced up with much more bacchanal than Solomon’s, which is exactly what the audience came for. As the counterpoint to Lily, Neehal also gave a lively performance. Brash, loud, unapologetic, her messiness was worn like a crown as she burst into Solomon’s life and captured his attention. As for her sex scene, she stood toe to toe with Lavine’s lascivious performance.
As supporting characters, Zo Mari Tanker and Jayron Remy left nothing to be desired, and Tanker’s histrionic performance left an impression in every scene in which she appeared. Remy was excellent as well as the more composed, submissive, go-with-the-flow husband, with comedic timing that played well with his co-stars. His one-on-one scene with Friday where truths were bared was a stand-out for me as well with a subtler, wittier humour than the rest of the play. I wish there was more of Benita Wilson’s Alice, but her appearance was short. Nevertheless, she played the small part well and held her own.
The Directors – Debra Boucaud Mason and Richard Ragoobarsingh, and Lighting Designer – Celia Wells, also deserve a shout out here. There were a few technical elements of the play that felt fresh and exciting. The lighting for both sex scenes, for example, is one. The aforementioned silhouetted sex scene was interesting already, and the second sex scene pushed even further by utilizing spotlights that flicked on, on the actors, who froze in a tableau mid-entanglement. The directors and lighting designer playfully used this technique to emulate a photoshoot on stage, a clever reference to Solomon’s profession as a freelance photographer. The audience found it delightful when the lights flashed on revealing the actors frozen in a different provocative position each time. It was also a nice touch to have this in the second sex scene as the first one was done fully in the dark, leading the audience to think that the second would follow suit, making it even more impactful when the lights flashed on without warning.
Additionally, the stage was used well and gave a definite sense that a lot of effort went into set design. The entire stage was designed as the interior of Solomon’s apartment, with his living room as the centre of attention and action and his bedroom taking up about a third of the stage, separated by a wall. This allowed the action to move seamlessly from room to room, with actors even being able to utilize a corridor and two door to enter and exit scenes. Finally, the fourth wall-breaks where the characters addressed the audience were also intriguing little additions that I think really helped with characterization and keeping the audience invested.
Samuels delivers a script that at times struck surprisingly thoughtful notes while maintaining the brand of humour that RR/RS Productions is known for. One could even argue that with the comedy stripped away, the remaining script could be developed into a prodding character study examining the themes of modern masculinity, sex, and relationships. Solomon and Lily’s first fight was a highlight for me in the way it gave early insight into his insecurities as a man, and simultaneously gave insight into Lily’s maturity and confidence as a woman with sexual needs.
In this light, it is hard to discern whether Solomon’s lack of development as a character is a pitfall or a feature of the script. The curtains close on him having come out of his downward spiral just the same, or maybe even worse off- in terms of his outlook on life and women- than we when we met him. The jokes were great, there was sex and scandal aplenty, but this hides a deep, dark cynicism at the heart of the play that it seems only Lily escapes, but not without her fair share of heartbreak. “Dis Little Piggy” proved to live up to the expectations of raunchy humour and bacchanal and even managed to surprise with some unexpected elements as well. It is no stretch to say that ‘Dis Little Piggy’ ended up being more than just cheap capitalization on a flashy piece of Trini bacchanal with lazy jokes and references.
Dis Little Piggy will continue its run from April 29th – June 10th, at various venues. For further information go to https://facebook.com/rsrrproductions, or call (868) 338-6024/ (868) 744 -7581.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hey, Shazim Khan here! I’m a student of literature at UWI, which happened as a result of a long time fascination with words in all their various forms and mediums. I also have a deep affinity for the arts on the whole, especially music of all genres – I’m an amateur guitarist.
I’ve recently been introduced to the fascinating world of theatre. The spellbinding magic that can be so expertly conjured on stage has captivated me and inspired a desire to learn and experience as much as possible of this timeless and magnificent craft.