BWW Reviews: LIEUTENANT OF INISHMORE is a Bloody Good Time
PETA supporters be warned. As Lieutenant of Inishmore hinges on the violent murder of a housecat, this show may not be for you. But for the rest of you who are curious as to how a play about kitty homicide can be one of the most intelligent and hysterical social satires in recent memory, I suggest you race to catch Capital T Theatre's production of The Lieutenant of Inishmore.
The comedy by acclaimed Irish playwright Martin McDonagh follows Padraic, a bloodthirsty member of the Irish National Liberation Army who goes on a vengeful rampage after the death of his cat, Wee Thomas. Though the premise may be absurd, it allows McDonagh to satirize the violence in Ireland, and violence in general, in a witty and ridiculous way. Though his fast-paced, violent, and hysterical play, McDonagh plants the idea that violence often stems from the most unimportant of events and conflicts.
Director Mark Pickell helms Capital T Theatre's production of Inishmore with clear vision and purpose. The production, like the text, plays with the paradox between humor and violence All told, Pickell's production feels like Kill Bill meets South Park, and the result is an evening of theater that is both hysterical and uncomfortable. One of Pickell's best ideas is to have his actors play the piece as if it is a drama. Everything is handled with the upmost seriousness, allowing the humor to stem directly from the dialogue and situations. The result is dark and gritty but incredibly comical.
Though Pickell's entire cast is fantastic, McDonagh's script doesn't allow many of them an opportunity to step into the spotlight. However, the three that get the most material to work with are all outstanding. Cassie Stewart is wonderful as Mairead, the ass-kicking tomboy who wishes to join the INLA, and her performance is particularly electric in the final two scenes. Wes Raitt is outstanding as Davey, the neurotic, befuddled goon responsible for the death of the cat. Jason Liebrecht shines as well in the leading role of Padraic, a man who proves that hell hath no fury like a pet owner scorned. He plays the character as a brooding, dangerous maniac whose violent temper and rage are comically at odds with the intense sorrow he feels after the death of his beloved pet. The set by Pickell and Ia Enstera and the special effects (i.e. buckets of blood and dismembered body parts) add tremendously to the stellar direction and performances.
Certainly a play involving kitty violence and mutilated corpses may not appeal to everyone, but anyone who has a strong stomach for gore and a love of smartly written satire will delight in Lieutenant of Inishmore. At times it may be gory and gross, but Capital T Theatre's production of Martin McDonagh's comedy is one of the funniest and most enjoyable productions of the year.
Running time: 1 hour and 45 minutes, including one 10 minute intermission. NOTE: Recommended for mature audiences only. Dislike of cats is also recommended.
THE LIEUTENANT OF INISHMORE, produced by Capital T Theatre, plays the Hyde Park Theatre at 511 W 43rd St, Austin 78751 now thru June 22nd. Performances are Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8pm. Tickets are $20-$30. For tickets and information, visit www.capitalt.org.