A difficult play deftly and wittily presented
By Caitlin McGrane
Accents are tricky; in order to nail it, you have to really go for it. Similarly, playwright Martin McDonagh’s dark comedy can be tricky to pull off. The cast of Four Letter Word Theatre’s production of The Lieutenant on Inishmore hit nearly every mark. With the cast often rattling through the tight script so fast it’s barely comprehensible, it was like sitting in my grandmother’s living room when the whole family was round. The play is situated in the early 90s on Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands. Times are troubled, and the gloomy stage was set well against the lightness of humour.
We begin with a dead cat. The cat belongs to a man considered too mad for the IRA, Padraic (Conor Mission), who has set up a splinter group of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), the other members of which are increasingly concerned with his behaviour. His father, Donny (Brendan Macdonald) and Davey (Leila Enright) hatch a clownish plan to protect Padraic from the truth about Wee Thomas. Their scheming is interrupted by Davey’s sister, the peculiar vegetarian Mairead (Gabrielle Sing), and the other splinter INLA members Christy (Kristen Cunningham), Joey (Harriet Wallace-Mead) and Brendan (Clancy Moore). All the cast were excellent, but particular mention must go to Macdonald and Enright who provided the bulk of the humour, and really got to the heart of their characters.
There’s a brilliantly twisted darkness to this play that the cast really bring to life on stage. I really enjoyed the inventive use of ‘The Patriot Game’, an old IRA ballad that was sung between scene changes. Director Kevin Turner has done a fantastic job of bringing this difficult text to the stage. Stage manager Jeannette Tong, set designer Francesca David and lighting designer James O’Donoghue have united in designing a smooth, innovative set.
This wonderful production is playing at The University of Melbourne Guild Theatre until Saturday 25 April. For tickets go to: http://umsu.unimelb.edu.au/events/the-lieutenant-of-inishmore/