“It’s incidents like this that does put tourists off of Ireland.”
So whines lazy slacker Donny in Martin McDonagh’s celebrated award-winning black Irish comedy The Lieutenant of Inishmore, featured main stage at WaterTower Theatre through February 6, 2011. Hard to disagree with him after the play’s action strews voluminous gobs of blood, gore and severed body parts across the stage. Full post-performance shower required, for all performers. Leave it to the wicked Irish to find the humor in a sick loner’s mad vengeance spree over his pet cat’s murder. Those weak in the gut or too deeply affected by the shocking reality of a sick loner’s mad vengeance in Tucson should best seek out other amusement.
Director Terry Martin chose a strong ensemble to portray the play’s gaggle of dissipated drunks, liars, losers and terrorist thugs with shameless abandon. Ian Ferguson, Evan Fuller and Clay Yocum, as the bungler trio that catalyzes the play’s events, create a messy, hilarious brotherhood that verges on Three Stooges synchronicity (as envisioned by a banshee). Waving weapons around with phallic abandon while spouting faux philosophical machismo, they function as comic relief while reinforcing the play’s underlying theme of mindless violence’s devastation.
Jason C. Kane as the play’s “fecked up” elder Donny and Tony Daussat as dumb as a stick, callow Davey bookend the production with well-engineered comic timing and wincingly believable patois. What a divine stinky pair of tragi-comic losers (Laurel and Hardy on meth?). Their relational banter and non-stop ironic commentary keep the funky escapade from disintegrating into stylized slasher melodrama.
Then there’s Padraic and Mairead, the play’s Bonnie and Clyde. IRA splinter-group founder and anti-social loner Padraic loves his cat to distraction. He abruptly abandons torturing a drug pusher (Matt Tolbert, gamely acting hung upside down by his heels, appealingly shirtless, dripping gushers of blood) to return home to kill his pet’s murderer.
Cold, contained and intense, Matt Moore presents a low-key madman. Wise of Terry Martin to rein in his actor from becoming a stereotypical frothing at the mouth wild killer; yet if his Padraic raged with a bit more reckless abandon it might be easier to buy the terror and hero-worship the script has him inspire in the other characters.
This play belongs to Mairead, as subtly developed by playwright McDonagh. On one level it’s a women’s empowerment tale: ask yourself who is the true “lieutenant of Inishmore” all along, the real power player. On a deeper, dark level McDonagh’s play projects a bleak future dominated by those whose habituated addiction to violence becomes their only expression. Kayla Carlyle ekes every nuance out of her character’s arc and finishes off the play with an unexpected, powerful whammy. A waif-like tomboy with a boyish haircut and proclivity for blinding cows with her superior marksmanship with a pellet gun, Carlyle’s Mairead is easy to dismiss early on as Padraic’s love interest and inconsequential wannabe terrorist. But her Mairead fears nothing, neither soiling her fingernails, nor bathing her arms elbow deep in the blood of a perceived enemy. Hold on to your seat; there’s no escape from her legacy, inherited from Ireland’s “Troubles”. Keen acting and carefully orchestrated direction create fine balance between broad comedy and dark tragedy in this saber-sharp production of McDonagh’s masterful The Lieutenant of Inishmore. Steve Tolin’s special effects, Georgana Jinks’ props, Christopher Pickart’s set, Michael E. Robinson’s costumes and Robin Armstrong’s fight choreography make marvelous the madcap mayhem. May art lead us beyond all violence.
TICKETS: 972.450.6232 http://www.watertowertheatre.org
Photo credit: Mark Oristano
How does this work/production honor the feminine through writer, director, actor or character? Excellent for character depiction and actor portrayal.
Lyrics to “The Patriot Game” written by Dominic Behan in the 1950’s, younger brother of playwright Brendan Behan, . identified as one of the best known tunes to emerge from the Irish nationalist struggle, popular amongst the IRA
Come all ye young rebels, and list while I sing,
For the love of one’s country is a terrible thing.
It banishes fear with the speed of a flame,
And it makes us all part of the patriot game.
My name is O’Hanlon, and I’ve just turned sixteen.
My home is in Monaghan, where I was weaned.
I learned all my life cruel England to blame,
So now I am part of the patriot game.
This Ireland of ours has too long been half free;
Six counties lie under John Bull’s tyranny.
But still De Valera is greatly to blame,
For shirking his part in the Patriot game.
They told me how Connolly was shot in his chair,
His wounds from the fighting all bloody and bare.
His fine body twisted, all battered and lame,
They soon made me part of the patriot game.
It’s nearly two years since I wandered away,
With the local battalion of the bold IRA,
I’ve read of our heroes, and I wanted the same,
To play out my part in the patriot game.
[extra verse I found]
I don’t mind a bit if I shoot down police,
They are lackeys for war never guardians of peace,
And yet at deserters I’m never let aim,
The rebels who sold out the patriot game.
And now as I lie (or: die) here, my body all holes (or: holed),
I think of those traitors who bargained in souls,
And I wish that my (air) rifle had given the same,
To those Quislings who sold out the patriot game.