A Word of Advice: Don’t Touch The Feckin’ Cat

I used to make the claim that theatre was more civilized; that you would never see a theatre production with as much blood and gore as your typical male shoot-em-up summer macho flick. I was wrong.

This afternoon, we went to see The Lieutenant of Inishmore” at the Mark Taper Forum. The Lt. of Inishmore is a dark comedy by Martin McDonagh. It tells the story of a group of Irish revolutionaries in 1993. The cat of one of the more violent revolutionaries, Padraic, has just been discovered to be killed in a violent fashion. Padraic’s father, Donny, blames the young man who discovered it, Davey, for ther murder. This cat, Wee Thomas, was Padraic’s only friend growing up, and the news prompts him to stop torturing James, the drug dealer, and return to Inishmore. The story progresses from there and I don’t want to spoil the surprises. Just know that along the way you meet Mairead, Davey’s sister and a wanna-be revolutionary, and Christy, Brandon, and Joey—three men who were part of the revolutionary group with Padraic until Padraic split off to form his own splinter group. If you really want the gory details… and this time I really mean gory… read the Wikipedia synopsis.

As I said, this was a bloody production. In the first act, you are presented with a scene of a man hanging upside down in a warehouse, bleeding from having his toenails torn off, and about to have his nipples cut off. In the second act, well, you are presented with a stage so covered with blood there should be a splash zone in the first couple of rows. If you have a queesy stomach, I suggest not going with a full tummy. You’ll empty it. Curious how they do the gore? Here’s an article explaining things from the LA Times (no spoilers).

This is not to say the play isn’t funny. Beneath that gore is a lot of humor—one can’t cope with gore like that without comic relief. The ending of the play is also quite funny, but I really don’t want to spoil it for people. Suffice it to say that if you can deal with the gore, you will find humor in the play and find it worth going to. This is not a play for everyone: you need to have a taste for truly dark comedy, combined with a slightly warped sense of humor. If you are looking for sunshine and light, I suggest you go to Cabrillo and see “Cinderella.

The acting in this production was top notch: nary a bad performance in the bunch. It also gave work to those Sullivan brothers from Heroes :-). Leading things off, as the relentless Irish revolutionary Padraic, was Chris Pine (yes, from Star Trek). Pine provided a focused, angry energy that was just compelling. Setting the plot in motion and cleaning up the aftereffects were Coby Getzug as Davey and Sean G. Griffin as Donny, Padraic’s ‘da. These two were also excellent in demonstrating the fear of Padraic and attempting to cover up Wee Thomas’s death. Zoe Perry was Mairead, the 16 year old sister of Davey, who honed her shooting skill on the eyes of cattle, and who is in lust with both the ideals and body of Padraic, even though she herself has the physique of a boy (i.e., no chest and short hair, which is a significant point in the play). Perry captured the character well; she was captivating in her stage presence. The fellow revolutionaries in the INLA were Andrew Connolly (Christy), Ian Alda (Joey), and Kevin Kearns (Brendan)—let’s just say you wouldn’t want to meet these folks in a dark alley. Lastly, Brett Ryback played James, the drug dealer. This was a small role, but one he played hanging upside down, so it took quite a bit of physical stamina.
[All actors are members of æ Actors Equity ]

The technical aspects of the production were excellent, from the sets to the copious stage blood and costumes (which need to be cleaned nightly, plus twice a day on weekends). Credits go to Laura Fine Hawkes (Scenic Design), Stephanie Kerley Schwartz (Costume Design), Brian Gale (Lighting Design), Cricket S. Myers (Sound Design), Steve Rankin (Fight Director), and, in two credits you don’t often see, Matthew W. Mungle (Special Prosthetic Effects) and Waldo Warshaw (Special Effects Design).

The production was directed by Wilson Milam. Original music was by Matt McKenzie. David S. Franklin was the Proudction Stage Manager, and Michelle Blair was Stage Manager—two jobs that, for this production, must be thankless for all the cleanup.

The Lieutenant of Inishmore continues at the Mark Taper Forum through August 8. Tickets are available through the Taper Box Office, and may be available through Goldstar and similar outlets.

Upcoming Theatre and Dance. August starts with “Young Frankenstein” at the Pantages on August 1. The next weekend brings [title of show] at the Celebration Theatre on August 6. August 15 brings the August “Meeting of Minds”, and August 21 “Side Man” at REP East. Looking into September, there is “Free Man of Color” at the Colony on September 4, and “Leap of Faith” at the Ahmanson Theatre (September 5-October 17, to be ticketed), and “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” at REP East (9/17-10/16). It is unknown if there will be a September “Meeting of Minds”, and if so, when and where. October will bring “Happy Days: The Musical” at Cabrillo Music Theatre, and possibly “The Glass Menagerie” at the Mark Taper Forum.

As always: live theatre is a gift and a unique experience, unlike a movie. It is vitally important in these times that you support your local arts institutions. If you can afford to go to the movies, you can afford to go to theatre. If you need help finding ways, just drop me a note and I’ll teach you some tricks. Lastly, I’ll note that nobody paid me anything to write this review. In fact, I receive no remuneration for any reviews I write.