The Lieutenant of Inishmore
The Loft,140 George Street, Dunedin
28/07/2018 - 25/07/2018
Alex ‘mumps’ Martyn – Donney Osbourne
Isaac Martyn – Davey
Laith Bayan – James Hanley
Mac Veitch – Padraic Osbourne
Josephine Devereux – Mairead
Bene Stewart – Brendan
Zac Nicholls – Christy
Shaun Swain – Joey
Korra (the cat) – We e Thomas
Heidi Geissler – Production Manager
Anna Sinton – Lighting Designer
Siobhan Donnelly – Lighting and Sound Operator
James Caley – Sound Designer/Operator
Sofian Scott – Stage Manager
Bridie Lewis – Assistant Stage Manager
Orion Carey-Clark – Director
Katherine Kennedy – Costume design
1 hr 30 min, no interval
Violence interrogated with humour
Review by Allie Cunninghame 26th Jul 2018
“Will it end?!” shouts an anguished character at one point in Martin McDonagh’s The Lieutenant of Inishmore. He is railing against the chaos that erupts over the two days depicted in the play’s 90-minute running time, but this chaos is a metaphor for the brutality of Ireland in the early 1990s.
The play is a black comedy, strewn with graphic violence, performed by a young and energetic cast, directed by Orion Carey-Clark. (The programme comes with a content warning, which should be taken heed of: scenes will definitely disturb some viewers.)
An attic on George Street is converted into a performance space where, within minutes of the lights going up, the audience is confronted with a dead cat’s head being opened. The cat, Wee Thomas, is the beloved pet of Padraic Osbourne, an IRA fighter who has left his rural West Ireland village for the city, where he throws bombs and tortures drug dealers. Padraic’s father, played by Alex Martyn, and his friend Davey (Isaac Martyn), concoct a ridiculous scheme to avoid having to admit to the violent, unpredictable Padraic that they have failed to look after the cat.
Martin McDonagh’s script, Carey-Clark’s direction, and the actors’ comic timing combine to create humour out of the absurd and the disgusting, and to ask the audience to consider the motivations that bring men (and women) to commit acts of violence. Surveying the devastation, it is tempting to say “all of this for a cat?”, but the play asks us to consider just what in our lives would make such violence justifiable.
Padraic is baby-faced, and very dangerous. Mac Veitch inhabits the role well. We are introduced to him in a chilling torture scene which is interrupted by a phone call from his father, letting the young terrorist know that Wee Thomas is “a bit poorly”. The demented phonecall, and the unreasonable obsession with the well-being of the cat, offers a counterpoint to the cruelty Padraic is willing to inflict on other humans.
The play features one woman character, sixteen year old Mairead, herself a cat lover, who has been in love with Padraic for years. Mairead, played by Josephine Devereux, is as capable of violence as the men in the village, and the audience witnesses her claim her own power in a world of chaos. Devereux’ portrayal of Mairead gets the balance between idealistic teenager and decisive (and violent) woman of action just right.
Martin McDonagh is an acclaimed Irish playwright, who has also written and directed the films In Bruges and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. There is a cinematic quality to parts of this Carey-Clark’s production, in particular a shootout inside a house, where the lights flash on and off, and the actors move around the stage, more like dancers. In this segment, we see extreme violence depicted with a sort of graceful beauty: a different counterpoint to the humour throughout the production.
Arcade Theatre Company, and its use of an innovative performance space (it is cold – the audience is given blankets and soup, but dress warmly) is proof that provocative, energetic theatre can still be offered in Dunedin despite the recent demise of the Fortune. As long as you can stomach the violence, get yourself along to this production – you won’t be disappointed.
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