My Gay Toronto - MGT Stage


We're all Pigs

by Drew Rowsome
Photos bJeremy Mimnagh


Pig runs until Sun, Oct 6 at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander St.

From the instant the mesmerizing Bruce Dow appears in a pin spot and unleashes his dulcet tones on a comic-tragic monologue, the audience for Pig knows they are in good hands and they surrender. The words are so carefully written and so compellingly delivered that the seduction is a fait accompli, and it is only as Pig gains momentum, that the audience realizes they have agreed to a cat and mouse, master and slave, journey of unrequited love and deadly sexual obsession. 

As a season opener Buddies production of Pig is an audacious and perfect choice. The material is gay-specific - though it would resonate with any human being who can handle the explicit gay sexuality - and incessantly thought-provoking. Those arriving expecting shock value, won't be disappointed when they find themselves having to think - and flinch - on seeing their own dark hearts reflected: director Brendan Healy has taken a complicated text and rendered it, with icy precision, crystal clear. Yes there is a lot of blunt sexual/S&M discussion and visualization but it is subtly an analysis of any relationship, the creative process, and a scathing indictment of our supposedly post-gay world. While that might sound like a lot to absorb, and it is, Pig's first act speeds by with the relentless momentum of a gay man cruising as the bar is about to close. The entire audience sits on the edge of their seats and the tension is palpable. It really feels like anything, no matter how horrible, disgusting or wonderful, could happen.

Much has been made of the shocking and daring nature of Pig, but it should also be noted that it has moments that are excruciatingly funny. Playwright Tim Luscombe weaves words into a heightened poetry of scatological brilliance and the resulting laughs are those lacerating ones where one is forced to confront one's own foibles. The second act stumbles a little with the concept of meta-fiction being explicated once too often but it is also where the explicit sexuality happens, so it is an even trade-off. Buddies can indeed be proud of their bravery in presenting such a provocative work but there should also be no question that Pig is a highly literary piece, sumptuously written, dealing with subject matter that could be considered shocking, but is really just ahead of its time. Bravo to Healy for digging into a dense delicious text and visualizing it with deceptive simplicity and brutal force.

Bruce Dow is a force of nature and his numerous characters are delineated clearly while careening from terrifying to outrageously funny in the blink of an eye. He is compulsive to watch and glues the whole production together with perfectly timed quips, naked lust stares and an utter lack of vanity. He was a revelation in Of a Monstrous Child, and he is magnificent in Pig

Blair Williams incarnates every brutal dom top while revealing the cracks in the leather that expose the fears and anguish that lie just beneath the harsh butch exterior of the species. He is ably matched by Paul Dunn who dives into his masochistic role and lives up to the frequent comments on his tortured beauty. We may not always understand his motivations but Dunn makes us feel them in the depths of our souls. 

If the rest of Buddies season is half as good as Pig, if the entire Toronto theatre season is half as good as Pig, it will be a season to remember.


Pig runs until Sun, Oct 6 at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander St.