The Wilbury Group is back with a “bloody good” – that is “bloody and good” –production of the controversial Irish play by Martin McDonagh, “The Lieutenant of Inishmore.”
Presented at the small space at Conley’s Wharf at 200 Allens Ave. in Providence, the action is up close – very up close. People in the front row are asked to keep their feet under their chairs.
The one-act play runs under two hours and never lets up. This is a play about violence, in particular political violence. Filled with black humor, the play ridicules violence by graphically showing it on stage.
The story opens with the death of a cat. Two men (Dennis Kozee and Brien Lang) have been left to care for the 15-year-old beloved cat of one of the meanest, maddest, violent revolutionaries. Padriac is so mad he has been thrown out of the IRA.
Who killed the cat? How will Padriac respond?
We meet Padriac (Joe Short) as he is torturing a drug dealer (Jo-An Peralta). He gets a call that his cat is “sick.” His victim, who has already had his toenails pulled off and is about to receive further gross punishment, suggests a cure for the cat’s ailment, and is allowed to go free as Padriac makes a mad dash home.
What he discovers upon his arrival is absolute chaos. Another cat has been stolen to take Thomas’ place, but Padriac quickly discovers the switch and blows it way.
More shady characters appear, including Mairead (Bonnie Griffin), an IRA wannabe who becomes deeply involved in further carnage, plus three scary men (Joe Ouelette, Jed Brainard and Jeff Hodge).
I really can’t tell you more about the outrageous plot without spoiling the incredible plot devices, twists and turns, and final revelation that will leave you laughing as you gasp for breath.
This play is not for the squeamish. Blood and body parts fly across the stage. Headless cats spurt their innards. People are tortured.
But beneath all the violence is a strong anti-violence statement. How could a cold-blooded killer react so differently toward his cat while unconcerned about his fellow men…even his father?
In all my years of reviewing plays, I have never seen anything quite like “The Lieutenant of Inishmore.”
It is shocking. It is gross. It is over the top! And yet I liked it.
If you want to see black humor at its best and aren’t easily grossed out, don’t miss this sharp production of a play that has shocked, surprised and stimulated audiences around the world. One thing is for sure, you won’t forget it…or its surprise ending.
At Conley’s Wharf, 200 Allens Ave., Providence, through Jan. 16 ($15/$20) Thursdays through Sundays at 7:30, with a Sunday pay-what-you-can matinee at 2 p.m. For tickets or more information, go online at www.thewilburygroup.com. Word of mouth made Saturday’s performance a sellout, so check it out today.