A wild tale of Goya and piglets on the loose

Boom Arts' "I'd Rather Goya Robbed Me …" delivers its absurdity and Vienna sausages straight outta the can

How messed up do you have to be to mistake your sons for piglets, or piglets for your sons? Boom Arts grapples with this question and throws a backhanded compliment at a Spanish romantic painter in Rodrigo García’s I’d Rather Goya Robbed Me of My Sleep than Some Other Son of a Bitch, which continues through Feb. 7 at Disjecta.

Goya was the last of the old masters, and we get the impression that the play’s sole (human) character sees himself the same way. In a drunken rant, he bemoans what idiots everyone else has become, with the exception of himself and his hero Goya. Sweeping his hand to swat at the world in general, he declares modern humans easily distracted, entertained…and perhaps outsmarted? Thinking out loud, he hatches a plan to thwart an institution and get closer to his Godot…I mean God…I mean Goya.

IlkinYom Photography/London

IlkinYom Photography/London

His sounding boards? Two piglets—yes, real, live wriggling, snuffling piglets—that he somehow considers his “sons.” Whether this means his sons are piggish, or his pigs are like family to him, is never made completely clear. It’s an absurd flourish, and some might say a gimmick. But the piglets’ adorable presence, their squeaky newness and cute curiosity, takes the edge off the (pro-? an-?) tagonist’s demeanor, which is as caustic as lye.

He reduces humanity to “some d-ck who says he’s my friend, or some b-tch who says she loves me.”

He boasts that his stolen book collection is “the only thing that works.”

And he drunkenly harps on the notion that Goya is the only painter who’s any damned good, connecting most closely with a macabre image of a monsterish father eating his young.

But his “kids,” ages 6 and 11, are all right. As the twin piglets frolic at his feet and play with various toys in a white picket pen, he quotes prior conversations he’s had with his “sons,” where they’ve supposedly made wise, erudite points. (Wiggle.) He plans to expose them further to art and philosophy. (Squeal.) They’re going to blow all of his savings together on one special day. (Poop.)

The piglets’ spontaneous behavior, which reads onstage as an apparent lack of cooperation with or concern for their “father,” discredits him as soundly as his profane, hollow boasts. But his reaction to their reaction humanizes him a bit. What father hasn’t wished his kids would share his interests and been disappointed when they didn’t?

Of course, there’s more aptness to the symbolism of pigs. Biblically, they’re the ultimate unclean, and the last companions of the disgraced prodigal son. Iconically, they stand for greed, gluttony, sloth, and bad manners. In Animal Farm, they’re the smartest and most corruptible creatures. And by all accounts, they wallow. They’re a fitting spirit animal for a disaffected beat poet who equates the profane with the profound and has decided the noblest cause is satisfying his own appetites…

…which, in this play, include Vienna sausages straight outta the can. So listen up, little piggies: any respect that dad doesn’t earn, he’s determined to command.

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