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