The Lieutenant of Inishmore: Theatre Review

Most people would assume I booked tickets to see The Lieutenant of Inishmore purely because of Aidan Turner, and while the star casting is usually the main reason for my theatre trips, this time I was more there for Martin McDonagh‘s writing, as I loved his scripts for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and In Bruges and wanted to check out his stage work.

The play focuses on Padraic (Turner), an INLA terrorist who we first meet torturing somebody by pulling out their toenails while they’re being hung upside down. But then he receives a call from his dad Donny (Denis Conway) – his beloved cat Wee Thomas is poorly and it’s not looking good. Padraic heads home immediately, only to discover that Thomas is in fact dead – he has been killed, presumably by Davey (Chris Walley) and his bike, and Padraic doesn’t take too kindly to the news when he discovers Donny and Davey have found a orange cat and are trying to pass it off as Wee Thomas.

This is a very odd idea but it is extremely funny, with many laugh out loud moments, but also very dark and violent, with people being shot at close range in an alarming fashion and the stage ending up covered in blood and body parts. It is definitely not for the squeamish or faint hearted, but the humour is always there to lighten the mood and never let things get too serious or scary. It’s difficult to balance comedy and such horrific acts, but McDonagh nails it in the way he does best.

Turner is obviously the main draw but the lead four – including Charlie Murphy as Mairead – are all brilliant. Padriac sounds like a psycho on paper but he comes across like a big softie in Turner’s hands. He is very funny and looks dashing while he’s at it. But the strongest are Davey and Donny – they are the true centre of the show and absolutely brilliant. Murphy was the weakest but that’s because I couldn’t always understand what she was saying, but she had a lovely singing voice.

The Lieutenant of Inishmore is perfect for fans of McDonagh’s previous work as it is as dark and brutal and hilarious as you’d expect. Poldark fans might be in for a surprise.

The production, directed by Michael Grandage, runs until August at the Noel Coward Theatre until 8 September. 

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