Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Lieutenant of Inishmore.

The Lieutenant of Inishmore by Martin McDonagh is definitely not for the faint of heart. This is the 15th and final production by Beth Marshal Presents at the Winter Garden Theater (160 W Plant St, Winter Garden, FL 34787.) The play is a very dark comedy about extreme Irish nationalists who are willing to spill blood for the smallest cause. The playwright said of this play, "I was trying to write a play that would get me killed." The program lists a blood specialist and a blood director, so I knew going in that things might get messy.

Padraic (Zack Lane) was a street smart and violent Lieutenant of the Irish Republican Army. His one love in life is his black cat named Wee Thomas. The cat was in the care of Davey (Joseph Fabian) and Donny (Don Fowler), two innocent well meaning fools who open act one as they inspect the mangled body of a dead black cat. Davey brought the cat back to their place on his bicycle and they both realize they are in very big trouble because of Padraic's violent temper. In the next scene Padraic is torturing a suspected drug dealer so his ill temper is confirmed. It was quite uncomfortable watching an actor hang upside down while he is threatened with having a nipple cut off.

Davey and Donny try and gloss over the issue of the dead cat by finding another cat and using boot black to try and make the cat black. On his return, Padraic is met by Mairead (Rachel Comeau) who attracts him by being as violent and crazy as he is. When they argue he aims a gun at her and she aims her air gun right at his privates at close range. The stand off garners respect.

Davey and Donny are blindfolded and bound ready for execution by Padraic as they kneel on the living room floor. Violence is interrupted by more bloody violence. Three "splinter group" IRA foot soldiers are blinded and then shot in the head at point blank range. This was incredibly uncomfortable to watch especially after the recent high school shooting in Parkland Florida. I found myself lurching with each blast of the theatrical guns. It was surprising that many in the audience would laugh as someones brains were blown out. The death of the cat resulted in four other senseless murders. The loss of a pet is a harsh reminder of our mortality. In the last act Davey and Donny discover that Wee Tommy, was actually alive. They both point their guns at the cat ready to kill it after all the violence they had just witnessed. They can't pull the triggers and they give Wee Thomas a nice big bowl of cat food.

The play clearly points to the futility and pointlessness of violence and killing. Yet its comedic tone is confusing. Change the Irish accents to southern drawls and the play could be set in our backyard. Perhaps only in America can we laugh at staged violence a week after 17 children are murdered in a south Florida school. The pointless violence in Ireland has been going on for decades and it is a harsh mirror to look in as we see how violent America is. Our love of guns is a joke to other nations of the world. The play resulted in a long discussion on the drive home followed by a radio broadcast about the gun legislation that died a senseless death. Among the bills that died were ones that would have banned assault weapons sales and expanded background checks.

The play runs through February 25, 2018.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

1 comment:

Samuel Butcher said...

"Change the Irish accents to southern drawls and the play could be set in our backyard."

What on Earth are you talking about? What is quintessentially American is the tenor of this review, likening 700 years of Irish struggle to a mass shooting. I pity the seat mate in your car for the conversation on the ride home. Art is meant to be a mirror we hold up to the world, one that allows for the discussion of ideas and opinions that may otherwise go silent. To in any way take away from the play the notion the violence is something to be glorified and not a deplorable and sad reaction is to have missed the point fantastically.

Oh, and the three soldiers you reference? Firstly they aren't soldiers as they belong to a paramilitary group. Secondly they are not IRA, they are INLA - which is part of the bloody point. They were considered too violent by the IRA.

McDonough wrote this in the early 2000s about the early 90s. That all you can take away from it it's what you went in with is a shame; though no one's fault but your own. I assure you: nobody reading this review would have assumed you were in favor of the wanton murder of children. That you need mention it suggests it dominates dialogue rather than informs it; hallmark of a lazy mind.