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A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
The Lieutenant of Inishmore
Two cats, Wee Thomas and Sir Roger, more beloved than humans, drive the plot. Wee Thomas is the fond pet of mad Padraic (Chris Pine) and Sir Roger belongs to the lass who becomes his sweetheart Mairead (Zoe Perry). The play opens with Donny (Sean G. Griffin), Padraic's father, and teen-age Davey (Coby Getzug) regarding with horror a black cat like Thomas whose head has been bashed in by Davey's speeding bicycle. They try to conceal the crime, knowing what Padraic will do.
Stealing into the scene are three gunmen from Northern Ireland, Christy (Andrew Connolly), Brendan (Kevin Kearns) and Joey (Ian Alda). They are hot on Padraic's trail not so much because he's cut off the nose of their friend, oh no, but because he fed it to his dog who choked on it!
And so it goes. . . two hours of fast-paced merry mayhem, until the self-proclaimed crowing of a new Lieutenant, meekly accepted by the survivors marks the end. There's one last surprise for us, another survivor.
A large share of the credit goes to director Wilson Milam. He's been with the show since its beginning in a small theater in London on to the West End where it won the Olivier and took it to Broadway where he was nominated for a Tony. review). At the Taper he has the advantage of the refurbished theatre with the best of facilities to help his fertile imagination, combined with McDonagh's gleeful spleen, bring out all the colors in the play.
Milam has assembled a fine cast headed by Chris Pine whose cherubic cleanliness sets him apart from the rest. Sean G. Griffin as Donny lends an authentic Irish air to the play. Cory Getzug as dunderhead teen-aged Davey has waist-length hair that makes him look like an American hippie. Zoe Perry as Mairead has almost no hair which along with her boyish figure lends her a sexless appeal until Padraic awakens her with a kiss. Brett Ryback as torture victim James holds the stage, alternately pleading and affecting cool disinterest. Brendan and Joey are louts, loudly played, and Christy is their sly leader.
Matt McKenzie composed the stunning score, that highlighs ominous chords between the scenes like thunder up the mountain.
There's torture galore, from Scene 2 where James is strung upside down, alternately pleading and cannily wheedling Padraic for forgiveness, to the final scene where the floor is bathed in blood and the survivors are ordered to carve up their victims. That's somewhat mitigated by the obvious dummies used. It depends on your ability to suspend disbelief.
McDonagh's world is an Ireland where the gun conveys stature. His people are nasty, brutish and short and he pokes fun at them with devilish zest. It adds up to a play that's hilarious, gory, ghoulish and bizarre. I loved it!