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McDonagh’s ‘The Lieutenant of Inishmore’ (2nd review)BY: Steve Cohen 02.27.2011
Martin McDonagh’s gruesome and very funny comedy concerns the stupidity of the culture of revenge— especially the hypocrisy of people who’ll cry over a dead cat but won’t hesitate to kill their political enemies.
The Lieutenant of Inishmore. By Martin McDonagh; Matt Pfeiffer directed. Theatre Exile production through March 13, 2011 at Plays and Players, 1714 Delancey Pl. (215) 218-4022 or www.theatreexile.org.
The light side of brutalitySTEVE COHEN
The Lieutenant of Inishmore is a wildly funny play, so compelling that a friend of mine loved it even though she is a cat-lover.
This is quite an achievement, because Martin McDonagh’s play begins with two Irishmen handling the body of a badly mangled cat, retrieving its brains with a spoon, and it proceeds to other gruesome acts against cats and people. We see men tortured and shot, blood gushing from the actors and splattering on the walls, and hacksaws and axes used to dismember the dead bodies.
It’s revolting, intentionally so. McDonagh was reacting against the violence in Northern Ireland in the 1980s and ‘90s. His play concerns the stupidity of the culture of revenge— especially the hypocrisy of people who’ll cry over a dead cat but won’t hesitate to kill their political enemies.
McDonagh has made a specialty of brutal topics explored graphically. The black comedy crime film In Bruges (2008) is McDonagh’s most accomplished work, and The Beauty Queen of Leenane, which creates a claustrophobic sense of entrapment in a shabby kitchen, his most bleak. But The Lieutenant of Inishmore is my favorite because it’s direct, in your face, with the most action. And as I said, it’s funny as hell.
The actors’ accents and attitudes are spot on, and credit should be shared by the entire cast, which includes Pearce Bunting, Robert DaPonte, Paul Felder, Keith Conallen, Elena Bossler, William Zielinski, Brian McCann and Andrew Kane. Set and prop designers Aaron Cromie and Melissa Cristaldi and sound designer/music director James Sugg deserve special praise.♦
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