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A CurtainUp Review
The Lieutenant of Inishmore
The Lieutenant of Inishmore Moves to Broadway
By Simon Saltzman

 David Wilmot  in The Lieutenant of Inishmore
David Wilmot and Alison Pill, in The Lieutenant of Inishmore on Broadway.
(Photo: Monique Carboni)
The transfer of Martin McDonagh’s The Lieutenant of Inishmore from Off-Broadway to Broadway was anticipated soon after it opened to laudatory reviews earlier this season. Certainly the blood soaked events and vengeance-motivated behavior that fuel the horrifically funny play makes Sweeney Todd look like a stroll down Park Lane. And that’s formidable competition. Whether it continues to generate the same excitement up-town remains to be seen.

The Off-Broadway cast, save one, is in tact. The impact of Wilson Milam’s direction that emphasizes the spilling and spurting of blood should have no trouble reaching to the upper rows of the Lyceum Theater’s second balcony. That there is a sizable enough audience with a taste for it is potentially problematic. Let’s hope that Lestat doesn’t get wind of it. At the press preview I attended, the audience laughed loudly and responded with enthusiasm to the play’s ironies and the character’s idiocies.

The Lieutenant… may be a hard sell to the faint of heart, but word-of-mouth will surely emphasize the humorous, almost farcical, slicing and dicing of human flesh, the reckless shootings and the rampant brutality that propels the play. The course dialogue, with its barrage of "fecking" this and "fecking" continues to resonate through the even more sharply honed performances of David Wilmot, as Padraic, the schizoid title character; Peter Gerety, as his flummoxed father; and Domhnall Gleeson, as Davey, the young lad accused of running over Padraic’s cat with his bike; and the supporting cast of militaristic thugs.

The significant new member of the cast is Allison Pill, who has replaced original cast member Kerry Condon, as Mairead, the reckless 16 year-old gun-crazed tomboy and would be member of a splinter terrorist group. Ms Pill’s engaging performance is markedly different in both its physicality and attitude from her predecessor. She affects a decidedly more winsome and vulnerable side in her uneasy relationship with Padraic, for whom she has the hots. With her spiked short strawberry blonde hair and pretty cherubic face, Pill certainly passes as Gleeson’s sibling, although his strawberry blonde hair is a few feet longer. Some of Pill’s words are lost in the thick mire of an otherwise informed Irish accent. But you can’t miss the clarity of her body language, with its flashes of lust and its preparedness for violence. As a bit of background for those unfamiliar with her work, Pill, who won a Drama Desk award for Outstanding Ensemble in the U.S. premiere of Neil LaBute’s The Distance from Here, (CurtainUp review) with MCC and was nominated for a Lucille Lortel Award for her role in Christopher Shinn’s On the Mountain (CurtainUp review), should settle soon enough into the Inishmore ensemble once she surrenders herself more freely to Mairead’s unstable ferocity and unrestrained willfulness.

No one with a taste for the purely electrifying should miss this audaciously ironic political play.

THE LIEUTENANT OF INISHMORE is now at the Lyceum at 149 W. 45th St. where performances began 5/03/06 for an open run. Except for Allison Pill as Maraid, the cast and designers are per the original.
Performances Tues @ 7:00pm, Wed through Sat @ 8:00pm, Wed & Sat @ 2:00pm, & Sun @ 3:00pm
Tickets: $91.25 to $36.25.

The original review by Elyse Sommer
I'd have been kicking your balls out of your brain long since. . . only it's sure I am you'll be being me brother-in-law some day. . .---Padraic
Is it marriage you're proposing to me so, Padraic Osbourne?   ---Mairead
It is. . .when our work is done ---Padraic
When Ireland is free! --- Mairead
That'll be a long fecking engagement! --- Donny

Don't be fooled by the Home Sweet Home sign over the door of the Island of Inishmore cottage in which most of the action in The Lieutenant of Inishmore plays out. In this latest in Martin McDonagh's Inishmore plays to cross the Atlantic, McDonagh's penchant for black as black can be comedies peopled by characters in whom the milk of human kindness has soured gets quite a workout.

The blood shed by Sweeny Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, over at Studio 54 will seem like a trickle compared to what you'll see spilled all over the floor of the cottage that's home to a good-looking but mean-spirited terrorist named Padraic when he's not blowing up and torturing people as a member of a group that split off from the IRA, whose methods are sort of an Irish blend of Monty Python and the Keystone Cops.

Like the half dozen McDonagh plays that have now been produced, The Lieutenant. . . is part of a 1994 burst of inspiration. Thus this grotesque satire of the violence within the Irish Republican Army has had a chance to age during a period when the fighting abated in the face of a much needed economic upturn, so that it's easier to laugh about it. The audience at the Atlantic Theater, which also launched The Beauty Queen of Leenane, is certainly laughing up a storm -- so much so that first night reviews and word of mouth have already led to an announcement of the show's transfer to Broadway (see production notes for details).

Having heard about the play's excessive violence, which includes a prisoner hung upside down and having his toenails razored off, bloody shootings and body parts being hacked apart to destroy any evidence as to their identity, I admit that I was a bit nervous when I saw that my tickets were for the second row. But, lo and behold, all this Grand Guignol butchery is indeed funny and I never really felt the need to flinch or look away. Mind you, it's not as moving as The Beauty Queen of Leenane or as complex as The Pillowman. That's because it's basically a shaggy dog story turned into a shaggy cat with nine lives tale with a political twist. You see, the gun toting quick with a knife or razor Padraic is deeply attached to his cat, Wee Thomas, and it is that cat as the first body we see that drives the plot to its hilarious conclusion.

I'm loathe to spoil things by detailing all the bizarre plot twists and turns: Padraic's dad Donny (Peter Gerety) and Davey, a dull-witted, pony-tailed neighbor (Dominall Gleeson) efforts to break the news of Wee Thomas's demise to his doting owner. . . Padraic's weird romance with Mairead (Kerry Condon) who happens to share his love for violence and cats. . . the deadly fight with three INLA (Irish National Liberation Army) incompetents who resent Padraic's extreme dealings with the drug dealers and major contributors to their treasury. (If you want more details immediately, check out Lizzie Loveridge's review of the London production linked below).

The reason the show is such a hoot in the face of its appallingly entertaining shenanigans is McDonagh's ear for the language of these County Galway ruffians and louts, the superior performances of the actors who play them and Wilson Milam's well-paced and authentic production. The appearance of three of the actors from the Olivier Award winning London production -- David Wilmot as Padraic, Kerry Condon as the pistol packing gun moll and Domhnall Gleeson as Davey with his Samson-like attachment to his long tresses is a special plus. However, the American cast fits right in as does the four-pawed guest who makes a brief appearance.

The onstage carnage prompts a wry bit of dialogue -- " It's incidents like this does put tourists off Ireland." But it's unlikely to put off audiences with a taste for comedies with take no prisoners violence.

The Lieutenant of Inishmore--London
The Beauty Queen of Leenane
The Lonesome West
The Cripple of Inishmaan
A Skull in Connemara
The Pillowman

Playwright: Martin McDonagh
Directed by Wilson Milam
Cast: Domhnall Gleeson (Davey), Peter Gerety (Donny), David Wilmot (Padraic), Jeff Binder (James), Kerry Condon (Mairead), Andrew Connolly (Christy), Dashiell Eaves (Joey) and Brian D'Arcy James (Brendan).
Set Design: Scott Pask
Costume Design: Theresa Squire
Lighting Design: Michael Chybowski
Sound Design: Obadiah Eaves
Fight Direction: J. David Brimmer.
Running Time: 2 hours, including one 15 minute intermission.
Atlantic Theatre Company, 336 West 20th Street ( 8th/ 9th Avenues) 212/239-6200
From 2/08/06 to 4/09/06; opening 2/27/06
Tues through Sat @ 8:00PM, Sat & Sun @ 2:00PM, Sun @ 7:00PM.
Tickets: $60
Transferring to the Lyceum, 149 West 45th Street, with performances beginning 4/18/06 and an official re-opening 5/03/06. --closing 9/03/06 after 16 previews and 142 regular performances at the Lyceum Theatre.
Reviewed by Elyse Sommer based on March 2nd performance
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