What’s in a name…or play? Regarding Pig Girl at The Roxy

On Friday, I saw Pig Girl at Theatre Network. I chose to go then because there was a talk-back afterward. I’d very strongly suggest reading the moderator Paula Simons’ account of that. Also, here’s the What It Is podcast, with the playwright, Colleen Murphy, and the director, Brad Moss, discussing the play.

I’ve been trying to sort out in my head since Friday night what I thought/felt about Pig Girl. I’m going the route of picking out three things I was affected by:

1) There’s a lot of debate about the title. The moment I heard what the play was about, and what’s its title was, it gave me pause. Everyone involved in the show has said it’s only loosely based on the murder of women in Port Coquitlam. It was very clear watching the play that those events are what the play is based on. So refering to a victim of this crime by the very animal that…the murderer used to hide the body… That seemed in my head very, very strange.

2) The two female characters are sisters. They actresses playing them look very different from each other – I thought nothing of that, since I was busy watching one sister being tortured by a murderer, and watching the other sister desperately looking for her. During the show it’s revealed the sister being killed had “looked different” at college, and the other sister mentioned adoption. That flew into my head, and I continued watching the one sister being tortured by a murderer. Then during the talk-back, it was said that the implication was that the woman being killed was aboriginal. Call me naive or dim, but I did not assume, because the character was adopted, a street worker, and looked so different from her sister, that she was aboriginal. I know that too many aboriginal women end up being exploited, and I know all of the victims at that farm were sex workers — and I’m disturbed that I was meant to “connect the dots”. I just don’t assume things like that. It was never said in the play, it was implied, and I was expected to assume. And I was aghast.

3) There appears to be NO debate, however, that the actors onstage were all fantastic: they so were. The actors playing Dying Woman and the Killer were Nadien Chu and Randy Hughson. It was hard to watch them, which it had to be. At the talk-back the two of them spoke about all the little things they do onstage, while performing, to check on each other and make sure everything’s okay. As much as I felt genuinely nauseous watching them, in my subconscious I knew for actors to be that good, they had to trust each other implicitly, and they said as much after the show. Having done shows myself where I was stuck onstage with someone I couldn’t trust, I felt a sliver of envy.

That’s what I have to say about Pig Girl . I honestly can’t say if I’d recommend it or not…because I’m still not sure how I feel about it.

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