Saturday, June 17, 2006

Inishmore: Curiosity Killed the Cat

I finally got along to see Martin McDonagh's The Lieutenant of Inishmore at the Lyceum last night. I know I've mentioned it in posts before, and blogged about events around it, but I hadn't had a chance to actually see the play yet....oh, alright, I'd been putting it off because I'm incredibly squeamish, and five gallons of fake blood, plus a rake of severed limbs, blinded animals and disembowelled cats sounded like it might be more than I could take. But I knew curiosity would get the better of me eventually, and so yesterday evening, A and I rushed it (meaning we got student rush tickets, for $25, an hour before hte performance). He'd seen it already, two weeks ago when some friends had a spare, and he'd thought it extremely funny, and after last night I'm already thinking about when I can see it again before leaving for Dublin at the end of next week.
It is hilarious, whip-sharp and very, very clever, and definitely lives up to the hype.

I was really disappointed, though, to see that David Wilmot wasn't playing the role of Padraic, presumably due to that strained voicebox he was suffering from on the night of the Tonys, and that the understudy was in the part instead. But watching said understudy, Brian Avers, in the part was like watching a mirror image of Wilmot. The job of understudy here is taken very seriously - for long, long runs on Broadway, after all, understudies are vital - and not only do they attend rehearsals, but they get paid for it just as they would if they were actually in the cast proper, and they're featured prominently in the programmes. And the performance of Avers last night, and of David Wilson Barnes, the understudy for Jeff Binder's character, Brendan, I can understand why. These guys gave flawless turns. Avers practically was Wilmot - acccent, enunciation, stance, facial expressions, everything - and there was no sense of disjointedness, of the cast not gelling together properly, of second-best. From the outset, this cast was on fire.
Much has been said of the extraordinary nature of McDonagh's story - he left school at 16, sat around all day watching soap operas and listening to The Clash, then took inspiration from his brother, who was starting to do well in screenwriting, sat down and churned out seven plays in nine months. The Oscar...and all of that. But there's also something extraordinary about Domhnall Gleeson, who plays the hapless (suspected) cat-impaler Davey, given that this is not just his first time on Broadway, but his first time in a play. Ever. 23 years old he avoided acting until now for fear of accusations of nepotism - his dad is Brendan Gleeson. He's had minor parts in a few short films, but this is his first time onstage, and it's impressive. OK, it's not as though he's playing a part of deep gravitas. For all its engagement with heavy themes, the play is basically a romp. But I still think Gleeson is one to watch. Especially if he happens to be throwing a cat basket out of a cottage window when you're watching him. I don't know why, but that made me cry with laughter. That, and a joke on a subject I'd have never, ever imagined as possible joke material - Bloody Sunday. Yeah, I know, it doesn't sound right. But it works. Savagely so.

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