|Thomas Preece (l) and Jon Verall|
Murder Most Feline
by Amy Barratt
The audience must be bludgeoned. Beat the feckers to a pulp.
This is what I imagine to have been Martin McDonagh’s mindset on beginning to write The Lieutenant of Inishmore. I don’t mean we’re metaphorically being beaten over the head with his ideas or philosophy. Quite the opposite. We’re left scrambling to find some meaning in the meaningless.
McDonagh (The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Pillowman) is a writer for our age because we are an age of bludgeons. Much as we might like to think we appreciate subtleties and finer points, let’s face it, we lean to violent video games and explicit lyrics. McDonagh writes for an audience weaned on Tarantino films: full of unbridled, unhinged violence, with little to no distinction between good guys and bad guys.
Lieutenant of Inishmore is a fable about a cat: a cat who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. And a young fella who fancies himself a terrorist. Not IRA, mind you: Padraic (Thomas Preece) was judged “too mad for the IRA” according to another character. He’s joined a splinter group but is thinking of forming a splinter of the splinter. Padraic just likes torturing and killing, and the “glorious cause” gives him the cover he needs to go about it freely.
Director Kate Bligh and the young actors of temenos have done a credible job of bringing this Greek tragedy as performed by vaudeville clowns to the stage. Geoff Aucoin looks the part wonderfully as Davey, the long-haired, girly bike-riding innocent.He could stand to bring his performance up a notch and not be over the top. Preece walks the delicate line between bumbling idiot and sadist with great assurance. Of all the actors in this piece he is the one who can least afford to let his concentration slip, and he never does. Jon Verrall deserves special mention for playing his only scene hanging upside down from the ankles. It’s some harrowing stuff.
In the end, what makes it worth seeing is that McDonagh doesn’t write with a bludgeon. This is as finely crafted a pay as you’re likely to see in this day and age. McDonagh has made the choice to wield a pen. I choose to see a glimmer of hope in that fact, whether he wants me to or not.
Lieutenant of Inishmore is at the Segal Centre
Read also director Kate Bligh's first person account of her process