Photo Flash: The Lieutenant of Inishmore At Berkeley Rep

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April is the cruelest - and most hilarious - month at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, when Les Waters lets loose with another shocking script from Martin McDonagh. In 2007, the Obie Award-winning director scored a direct hit with his extended run of The Pillowman; since then, the Academy Award-winning author released his first feature film, In Bruges. Now Berkeley Rep reenlists these seasoned artists for another vicious comedy: The Lieutenant of Inishmore. Staged in the state-of-the-art Roda Theatre, this edgy farce began previews on April 17, opens April 22, and closes May 17. BART and Wells Fargo serve as season sponsors for Berkeley Rep's 41st year of fearless theatre, and the executive producers for this show are Marjorie Randolph, Betty and Jack Schafer, and Philip and Shirley Schild.

"I am delighted to be working for a second time on a play by Martin McDonagh," Waters remarks. "His writing is so precise that it's like a mathematical equation made of comedy - and his ability to mix humor with horror is extraordinary. The Lieutenant of Inishmore is a comic masterpiece that looks at the brutality of humanity through the microcosm of one village. While the laughter and the bloodshed flow, it asks serious questions about family, friendship, love, and patriotism. McDonagh is even willing to examine and challenge our sentimental attachment to our favorite pets."

Like all of McDonagh's scripts, The Lieutenant of Inishmore employs explosive dialogue and a perfectly oiled plot that is brutal, bloody, yet irresistibly funny. As part of an I.R.A. splinter group, Padraic thinks nothing of murdering and mutilating his enemies - but the sudden death of his beloved cat leaves him heartbroken. Amidst the comedy and carnage, McDonagh delivers cutting commentary on the endless cycle of violence that engulfs our world. "Best bloody play I ever saw," raves the New York Observer. "No play I've seen in years of theatergoing begins to approach the mad daring of Inishmore. Put simply, this is the first farce about terrorism in the history of the whole wide beautiful world."

"It's perversely amusing and alarmingly real. Audience members regularly scream in shock," the Washington Post exclaims. "Appallingly entertaining," adds the New York Times. "Lieutenant is brazenly and unapologetically a farce. But it is also a severely moral play, translating into dizzy absurdism the self-perpetuating spirals of political violence that now occur throughout the world." "Razor sharp," declares the London Guardian. "This is a terrific play about a serious subject that's touched with a Monty Pythonesque insanity." And The New Yorker calls it "gleeful and macabre... The Lieutenant of Inishmore is a sort of cautionary fairy tale for our toxic times."

Martin McDonagh was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe this year for his first feature film, In Bruges. He already earned an Oscar for his short film, Six Shooter. These are merely the latest accolades in a meteoric career that had humble beginnings. Born and raised in London, McDonagh dropped out of school at 16, went on the dole, and borrowed a how-to book on writing. After trying his hand at short stories, radio plays, and television scripts, he turned to the chapter on playwriting and quickly became a legend. His first play, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, was written in only eight days and netted him the Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright and the first of four Tony nominations for Best Play. By the age of 26, McDonagh achieved the incredible: he became, as The New Yorker notes, "the first dramatist since Shakespeare to have four works professionally produced on the London stage in a single season." Six of his plays are set in his parents' native Ireland: the Galway trilogy (Beauty Queen, A Skull in Connemara, and The Lonesome West) and the Aran Islands trilogy (The Cripple of Inishmaan, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, and The Banshees of Inisheer). Berkeley Rep introduced Bay Area audiences to the macabre world of McDonagh with the West Coast premiere of Beauty Queen in 1999, and in 2007 it presented his seventh show, The Pillowman, winner of England's prestigious Olivier Award. McDonagh recently announced that he will bring a new play to Broadway in 2009, although he promises that someday he'll write "a romantic comedy where hardly anyone gets murdered at all."

Les Waters has been the associate artistic director of Berkeley Rep for the past six years. His shows ranked among the Top 10 Plays of 2007 in Time Magazine, 2006 in the New York Times and 2005 in TimeOut New York. He has a long history of collaborating with prominent playwrights like Caryl Churchill and Charles Mee, and champions important new voices such as Will Eno, Jordan Harrison, and Anne Washburn. At Berkeley Rep, he staged the world premieres of Fêtes de la Nuit, Finn in the Underworld, In the Next Room (or the vibrator play), and To the Lighthouse; the American premiere of TRAGEDY: a tragedy; the West Coast premiere of Eurydice; and extended engagements of The Glass Menagerie, The Pillowman, and Yellowman. He won an Obie Award for Big Love, staging its premiere at the Humana Festival and subsequent runs at Berkeley Rep, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Goodman, and Long Wharf Theatre. His other New York credits include Classic Stage Company, the Connelly Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, Playwrights Horizons, The Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival, Second Stage Theatre, and Signature Theatre Company. Elsewhere in America, he has directed for ACT/Seattle, American Conservatory Theater, American Repertory Theatre, Arena Stage, Guthrie Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, the Mark Taper Forum, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, and Yale Repertory Theatre. In his native England, Waters has worked with the Bristol Old Vic, Hampstead Theatre Club, Joint Stock Theatre Group, National Theatre, Royal Court Theatre, and Traverse Theatre Club. Waters led the MFA directing program at UC San Diego, serves on the board of Theatre Communications Group, and is an associate artist of The Civilians. His many honors include a Drama-Logue Award, an Edinburgh Fringe First Award, a KPBS Patte, and several awards from critics' circles in the Bay Area, Connecticut, and Tokyo.

Waters has drafted eight accomplished actors to fill the ranks of this raucous show. Michael Barrett Austin (Joey) has appeared at many local theatre companies including 42nd Street Moon, Brava Theatre Center, California Conservatory Theatre, Carmel Shakespeare Festival, Funny But Mean, Just Theater, New Conservatory Theatre Center, Pacific Repertory Theatre, The Playwrights Foundation, and TheatreWorks. Rowan Brooks (Brendan) has performed locally with B Street Theatre, California Shakespeare Theater, Magic Theatre, PacRep, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, Shotgun Players, and TheatreFIRST. A graduate of The Oxford School of Drama, his London credits include Blood Wedding, Dangerous Liaisons, and Shadow of a Gunman. Molly Camp (Mairead) was last seen at the Vineyard Playhouse in Mrs. Miller Does Her Thing, which was written and directed by James Lapine. Her other credits include the Contemporary American Theatre Company, the Contemporary American Theater Festival, the Sundance Institute Theatre Lab, and Syracuse Stage. James Carpenter (Donny) has appeared in more than 30 productions at Berkeley Rep, most recently The People's Temple. In addition to experience at regional theatres nationwide, his local credits include shows at A.C.T., Campo Santo, Marin Theater Company, San Jose Repertory Theater, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, TheatreWorks, and Word for Word. Blake Ellis (Padraic) last performed in the Bay Area in Richard III at Cal Shakes. He has also worked with the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, DC and the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon. Adam Farabee (Davey) performed off Broadway in 365 Days/365 Plays, Local Time 5-7 AM, and the world premiere of Victoria Martin: Math Team Queen. He has also been involved in the development of new plays at MCC, New York Theatre Workshop, and Primary Stages. Daniel Krueger (James) is a member of the award-winning comedy troupe Killing My Lobster. He has also performed with the Central Coast Shakespeare Festival, Center Repertory Company, The Cutting Ball Theater, the SF Playhouse, and Shotgun Players. On screen, he can be seen in the upcoming feature film The Prankster. Danny Wolohan (Christy) worked with Waters on TRAGEDY: a tragedy and has appeared in ten world premieres at Intersection for the Arts, where he belongs to both resident companies: Campo Santo and the ESP Project. American Theatre named him one of seven actors in the nation you should travel to see.

Waters has also recruited a crack team of top designers to deploy his Lieutenant. Antje Ellermann (scenic design) created sets for Berkeley Rep's productions of 9 Parts of Desire, The Pillowman, and TRAGEDY: a tragedy. An Emmy-nominated designer, her work has also been seen at NYTW and Theatre for a New Audience in Manhattan, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and regional theatres nationwide. Anna R. Oliver (costume design) has designed five previous shows at Berkeley Rep: Heartbreak House, Fräulein Else, The Magic Fire, Missing Persons, and The Pillowman. She has worked with numerous local theatres, many prominent opera companies, and at BAM, Dallas Theater Center, The Old Globe, and Seattle Rep. Alexander V. Nichols (lighting design) has de signed scenery, costumes, lights, and projections for dance and theatre companies across Amer ica, including 15 previous shows at Berkeley Rep: Civil Sex, Continental Divide, Culture Clash in AmeriCCa, Fêtes de la Nuit, The Guys, Honour, The Life of Galileo, Menocchio, Mother Courage, Ravenshead, Rhinoceros, Surface Transit, Taking Over, Yellowjackets, and Zorro in Hell. Obadiah Eaves (sound design) worked on Berkeley Rep's productions of 9 Parts of Desire, Heartbreak House, The Pillowman, and Yellowjackets. His Broadway credits include Accent on Youth; Come Back, Little Sheba; The Lieutenant of Inishmore; and Shining City - and his music can be heard on film, on television, and in toys by Fisher Price. This production also features the work of Dave Maier (fight director), Lynne Soffer (dialect coach), and Karen Szpaller (stage manager), with special effects by Tolin FX.

Intrepid theatregoers can sign on for 23 special missions with The Lieutenant of Inishmore:

Target ® Teen Night begins at 6:30 PM on Friday, April 17. This popular event includes dinner donated by Bowzer's Pizza, a behind-the-scenes discussion with a member of the artistic team, and a performance of The Lieutenant of Inishmore. Tickets are only $10 for teens! For details, call (510) 647-2978 or e-mail school@berkeleyrep.org.
30 Below - the coolest night of theatre for the under-30 crowd - also returns on Friday, April 17. Enjoy a performance at 8:00 PM and a wild post-show party sponsored by the SF Bay Guardian. Tickets start at only $13.50 for anyone under 30 years old!
Opening night festivities are held on Wednesday, April 22, including a pre-show dinner for donors at Downtown Restaurant and a post-show party for the audience catered by Bistro Liaison and Raymond Vineyards.
night/OUT on Thursday, April 23 welcomes Energy 92.7 and the LGBT community. This post-show dance party features food from Tomatina, bouquets from Darling Flower Shop, and complimentary drinks from Raymond Vineyards and Triple Rock Brewery.
Free 30-minute docent presentations about the show start at 7:00 PM before every Tuesday and Thursday performance: April 21, April 23, April 28, April 30, May 5, May 7, May 12, and May 14.
Post-play discussions moderated by theatre professionals follow the 8:00 PM shows on Thursday April, 23; Friday, May 1; and Tuesday, May 5.
And, at select performances, patrons can whet their palates for the play with free tastings from local culinary artisans one hour before curtain: Amanda's (Sunday, May 3 and Friday, May 8), Bedarra Vineyards (Friday, May 15; Saturday, May 16; and Sunday, May 17), Raymond Vineyards (Saturday, May 2), Teance (Friday, April 24), and Triple Rock Brewery (Saturday, May 9).

March on down to The Lieutenant of Inishmore. Individual tickets start at only $27, thanks to exciting new prices that let more people experience the best theatre in the Bay Area. Additional savings are available for groups, seniors, students, and anyone under 30 years of age - meaning discounted seats can be obtained for as little as $13.50. This change makes Berkeley Rep more affordable to people in the community who are just starting school, starting careers, and starting families - because lower prices are now available for every performance.

Set your sights on Berkeley Rep. The Roda Theatre is located at 2015 Addison Street, near bus lines, bike routes, and parking lots - and only half a block from BART. To purchase seats, or for more information, call (510) 647-2949 or toll-free at (888) 4-BRT-Tix - or simply click berkeleyrep.org.

Photo credit: kevinberne.com and mellopix.com 

 

Photo Flash: The Lieutenant of Inishmore At Berkeley Rep
James Carpenter, Blake Ellis and Adam Farabee

Photo Flash: The Lieutenant of Inishmore At Berkeley Rep
Danny Wolohan and Blake Ellis

Photo Flash: The Lieutenant of Inishmore At Berkeley Rep
James Carpenter and Adam Farabee

Photo Flash: The Lieutenant of Inishmore At Berkeley Rep
Daniel Krueger and Blake Ellis

Photo Flash: The Lieutenant of Inishmore At Berkeley Rep
Adam Farabee and Molly Camp

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