'The Boy Who Kicked Pigs' review or 'Scarier than horse meat'

'The Boy Who Kicked Pigs' (adaptation of novel by Tom Baker)
Jacksons Lane, Wednesday 6th March 2013
Written for Time Out




'The Boy Who Kicked Pigs’ is a terrifying children’s novel written by one-time ‘Doctor Who’ star Tom Baker. It has now been adapted into a mesmerising stage show by the scorchingly talented young company Kill the Beast.

In it, families are burnt to ashes, a lad is eaten by rats and a little girl slaughtered by a crusty old blind man. It’s recommended for ages 12 and above, but this is no kids’ show.

Instead, it’s an impressively mature production from a company not long out of university. There is real unity of purpose here and the jaunty acting, biting script and eerie visuals all work in jangling harmony.

The characters – doused in grey and bent out of shape – feel like they’ve been violently wrenched from Baker’s novel. David Cumming is superb as Robert Caligari, a boy so bored of dead-end Kent that he is eventually driven to murder. With his spiky hair and piercing cackle, Cumming resembles Dennis the Menace's evil twin.

The show is just as funny as it is frightening. And there is a distinctly na├»ve feel to Clem Garritty’s production, which relies strongly on am-dram techinques and physical theatre. It lends the show a whiff of innocence which, strangely, makes it scarier still.

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