nytheatre.com review by Roger Nasser
December 8, 2008
Fairy tales often use magical transformations where, for instance, a prince gets turned into a frog by an evil witch and must be kissed by a princess to be restored to his true self. Sometimes in a fairy tale the characters in question have to go through an internal change before the physical change can manifest. Pig Tale by Chris Weikel is "An Urban Faerie Story" and contains a "magical" transformation commonly seen in a fairy tale. As the play opens, Johnny and Dave are entering Johnny's East Village apartment in a flustered passionate kiss. They have been "seeing" each other for a while but there seems to be a bit of distance between them. It appears that Dave wants a little more than Johnny wants to give. Dave wants to get food for "after" or spend the night but Johnny doesn't seem comfortable with that. After that short conversation they have sex (this is very tastefully done behind a curtain). Johnny, who referred to Dave as his "pig bottom" before they went into the bedroom are, freaks out and we see that Dave for some reason has been turned into a pig, literally.
Johnny doesn't know how it happened or even why, but thinks it may have to do with a neighbor, Mama Truth, whom he had an argument with. Johnny thinks Mamma Truth put a hex on them. Johnny confides in his best friend, Kyle, who went to graduate school studying fairy tales. Kyle brings Mama Truth, a tranny, over to Johnny's apartment so she can change Dave back, but nothing happens. Mama Truth says that she had nothing to do with it but tells them a Romanian folk tale about an enchanted pig. Johnny is now stuck with Dave in the pig form. They figure out a way to communicate (one snort means no, two snorts mean yes). The situation actually makes them grow much closer and they learn things about each other. Throughout the course of the play, Kyle does research to try to find a way to turn Dave back into a human. Johnny is encouraged by Dave to start drawing again. Eventually Johnny is the one who really goes through the most changes in the story and there is a "happily ever after" in store for the characters.
I really enjoyed Pig Tale a lot. It is a very smart, witty, and funny play. I found myself laughing through most of the show. Chris Weikel wrote a really sweet and honest play. His characters are fully developed and engaging. The story is also refreshing and it doesn't fall into the clichés that gay-themed often do. Mark Finley has done a stellar job directing this piece. The staging feels very organic. I also thought that the set was really great. Ray Klausen has a great eye for detail—for example, Johnny has lived in this apartment for about eight years and in some places the wallpaper is distressed or peeling and that really helps set the environment.
The cast does an amazing job. Patrick Porter is terrific as Johnny, our conflicted protagonist. Porter brings a real honesty to the role and it was nice to see his character develop and mature during the course of the play. Jesse May is amazing as Dave. His transformation from man to pig is very well done. May has a really nice endearing quality about him. May also is able to convey everything he is feeling through changes in his eyes and facial expressions, which was really great. Porter and May have great chemistry which makes their relationship very believable. Tim Dietrich is hysterical as Kyle, Johnny's marijuana-friendly best friend. Moe Bertran is extremely entertaining in his many parts, but Mama Truth was my favorite. The cast works really nicely together and help make the outcome really truthful.
Pig Tale is a really fun and endearing play. The characters are very relatable and the story touches upon a lot of the struggles that people in relationships go through. It is definitely worth the trip to the Wings Theater to see. I look forward to Wiekel's and Finley's future endeavors together.