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The Lieutenant of Inishmore


Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
4 stars
The dead, decapitated cat that is the big reveal at the opening of 
Martin McDonagh's scabrous black comedy sets the tone on one of the 
bloodiest and most outrageous plays to make it to the main stage for 
years. Set in one of McDonagh's trademark rural Irish backwaters, the 
seemingly accidental cat killing opens the door to an increasingly 
absurd world of rubbish terrorists whose scatter-gun approach to things 
looks ever more futile, and all the more hilarious for it.

When Irish National Liberation Army loose cannon Padraic is interrupted 
 from his self-appointed duties torturing drug dealers and bombing chip 
shops with the news that his pet pussy is at best unwell, we see the 
full sentimental face behind the fanaticism he espouses. With his 
former comrades laying in wait, as well as a girl with an air rifle who 
still believes in heroes back at home, the dramatic explosion that 
follows is a deranged mix of Beckettian mundanity and Sam Shepard-like 
baroque as rebooted by Quentin Tarantino.

It's a credit to director Mark Thomson that he's putting such essential 
work into the Lyceum repertoire where other theatres might fear to 
tread, and his production captures the full ridiculousness of 
McDonagh's vision. All of the performances are beautifully nuanced, 
delivering McDonagh's vicious one-liners like bullets, with Peter 
Campion's Padraic forming a crazed Bonnie and Clyde style alliance with 
Rose O'Loughlin's Mairead as the body-count escalates.

It's telling, however, that after all the mayhem, it's the domestic 
ordinariness of the world that survives along with an all too brief but 
show-stealing turn from a moggy with considerably more than nine lives 
to play with.

The Herald, April 23rd 2012

ends



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