FST offers our first (and long-awaited) full production of a Martin McDonagh work.
By Kay Kipling
To my knowledge, Florida Studio Theatre’s Stage III presentation of The Lieutenant of Inishmore is the first full offering of a work by the prolific and acclaimed playwright Martin McDonagh (The Pillowman, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, etc.) in Sarasota theaters. And it’s about time.
Undoubtedly some audience members will be put off by McDonagh’s work, which is very free with adult language and violent content. But there is a point to it all, one that’s quite clear in this dark comedy about an Irish Liberation Army enforcer with severe anger issues.
That enforcer is Padraic (pronounced more like Por-ic), played convincingly by Eric Miller. Padraic is the sort of man everyone, even his closest family members, is afraid of. And after the one thing he loves in the world, his black cat Wee Thomas, turns up dead, no one is exactly eager to break the news to him. For Padraic, although he may think nothing of stringing up a drug pusher and removing his toenails, or blowing up a building he hopes is packed with people, has very tender feelings towards cats.
That’s only one absurdity in an evening that’s packed with them, as Padraic’s father, Donny (David Vining), and Davey (Jerry Gwiazdowski), a timid and not terribly bright neighbor boy, scramble desperately to come up with a cat who can replace Wee Thomas, even if it involves applying a thick coat of black shoe polish to the animal. And things escalate further when we meet some fellow “soldiers” of Padraic’s with revenge on their minds, as well as Davey’s tough-minded sister (Amy Tribbey), who wants to join up with this pathetic band of terrorists but is denied by virtue of her sex.
McDonagh is working here in the tradition of a long line of Irish plays, awakening echoes of pieces by Sean O’Casey perhaps, or, more likely, Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World. The humor of the play is particularly Irish indeed (as one character remarks after the stage becomes awash with blood, “It’s incidents like this that does put tourists off Ireland”), but the insanity of the violence depicted reverberates around the world.
Well cast and well directed by Victoria Holloway, The Lieutenant of Inishmore may induce groans or grimaces at times. But it’s often very funny. Just be prepared for the language, the gore, and the sounds of gunshots.
The Lieutenant of Inishmore runs through Feb. 16 at Stage III. Call 366-9000 or go to fst2000.org for ticket information.