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Review: The Lieutenant of Inishmore (Noel Coward Theatre)

Thursday, 5th Jul 2018  

The Lieutenant of Inishmore Review - Noel Coward Theatre

Martin McDonagh found success at the Oscars earlier this year as writer and director of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. But before he conquered Hollywood, he honed his craft writing for the stage. He is a writer famous for his dark sense of humour and no holds barred attitude to controversial subject matter.  Hangmen (McDonagh’s play that transferred to the West End following a run at the Royal Court) was widely regarded as the play of the year for many in 2016. Now Michael Grandage follows up his production of McDonagh’s The Cripple of Innishman (which starred Daniel Radcliffe) with The Lieutenant of Inishmore starring Poldark’s Aidan Turner – making his West End debut.

Turner plays “Mad Padraic”, a man know for his particularly violent methods. He has entrusted his beloved cat “wee Thomas” to his father, Donny (Denis Conway), while he is away on business for a republican splinter group.  He hastily returns home to Inishmore when he is told his Cat is “off his food” when, in fact, the cat has been found dead by the side of the road by villager Davey (Chris Walley) – who, when accused of doing the deed, attempts to cover up Thomas’ death by attempting to disguise his sister’s ginger cat with black boot polish.  Padraic is not fooled by this and is about to exact retribution on his father and Davey when three fellow members of Padraic’s splinter group arrive at the door wanting to have a word.

This comedy is not for the faint hearted. The second half of the play is particularly bloody but very funny indeed. It is comedy at it’s blackest. The laughs come thick and fast in Michael Grandage’s expertly directed revival. The play is set in a time where the IRA were still regularly involved in terrorism and the Good Friday agreement wasn’t even a hope anyone dared to dream of.  It follows in the tradition of the great Irish playwrights who are viciously accurate while being sensational and entertaining.

The performances are strong across the board. Aiden Turner fans may be in for a bit of a shock given the nature of this character. He plays Padraic as a twisted, yet sensitive soul. There is a child like innocence about him that makes him unpredictable and all the more shocking when he becomes violent. Credit also to Charlie Murphy – who plays Davey’s Tomboy sister brilliantly.

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