The Lieutenant of Inishmore Review - A Fine Feck Of A Farce Comes To The Taper

Chris Pine - The Lieutenant of Inishmore

I have had friends who have developed amplified relationships with cats; I myself, was very attached to my first cat, Virgil. I had a special call for him (I elongated the first syllable of his name, “vir,” making it about the length of a dotted-half note, then dashed down a quick sixteenth with “gil.” Like “Veeeeeerrrrrrrgil!”) and he would come running to me from often very far distances. Virgil and I were down with each other. It was real; it was deep. My other family members understood my love for Virgil; it was somehow acceptably abnormal.

But we didn’t live in terrorist Ireland, on the troubled Island of Inishmore . And, although my early piano lessons could be conceived as a possible dark comedy, nobody ended up completely dismembered on our living room floor….well, at least not beyond the symbolic dimension.

Chris Pine, Brett Ryback -The Lieutenant of Inishmore

The Lieutenant of Inishmore is a dark comedy about a cat. Actually, a dead cat.

Or maybe it’s a story about revenge.

Unswerving revenge.

Over a dead cat.

Actually, make that TWO dead cats.

Fill in the 75 minutes between the death of each cat and you have Martin McDonagh’s nasty little twister, The Lieutenant of Inishmore ; a masterpiece dedicated to the entirety of uninformed rage. Here is a dark comedy whose characters are so confused that even their darkest moments make us want to show them affection of some kind. .

Chris Pine, Zoe Perry - The Lieutenant of Inishmore

Podraic (played by Chris Prine) is a handsome, young, would-be terrorist intent upon forming a splinter group that indiscriminantly tortures anybody deemed an enemy to the Irish. In Act I we find him interrupted from his bloody heroics by the news that his beloved cat, Wee Thomas, has come down ill. He abandons the brutal torture of a local pot dealer (fully portrayed on stage, with the drug pusher hanging upside down and bleeding) to return home to see for himself the extent of Wee Thomas’s condition.

Coby Getzug, Sean G. Griffin - The Lieutenant of Inishmore

And this is the first encounter we have with the very subtle interplay of loyalties, no matter how absurd, that underpins this work. However, no loyalty, whether to country, family or romantic love, is as important as the unconditional, fully requited love of person-and-cat. Podraic has entrusted the care of Wee Thomas to his father and is incensed at the apparent neglect that has taken place during his absence. His passionate return home to his beloved Wee Thomas is an all-consuming blood-fest fueled by blind rage.

And the dialogue is impeccable. Here, spoken over some of the goriest, most atrociously violent scenes one will ever see on stage, is verbal candor cut with such precision that we helplessly await each line with an anticipatory smile for its delicious, biting Irish irony. Without so much as a single misplaced word, McDonagh makes rough-and-ready, profanity-infused Irish dialogue reveal its inherent genius for ironic, incisive humor. The tempo of this work is born from this dialogue; and the play itself ultimately requires nothing more than to be read aloud in order to be one of the funniest plays of our time.

Chris Pine, Brett Ryback - The Lieutenant of Inishmore

Padraic attempts to murder all those concerned with the mysteries surrounding Wee Thomas’s woes (including his own father). In this process he does, however, fall in love with a local tomboy turned mercenary-for-hire named Mairead (played by Zoe Perry). Yet even here, the softer side of Podraic involves alternately interrogating her with two pistols aimed directly at her head and wild embraces filled with deep kissing.

Act II is stunningly violent and fully engaging. Director Wilson Milam takes full advantage of the contrast options offered by a brutally violent second half of the play. Without revealing too much about specific images, I will disclose that you will read content warning signs while you approach your aisle and find your seat.

Milam, who was Tony-nominated for the Broadway production of the play, does something extraordinary. He gives us the option to view violence as we see fit. There is full body dismemberment on stage, choreographed with tin buckets and successions of saws and other crude instruments. Yet there is a slapstick itinerary here; and we may choose to see a comic strip façade. Further, the farcical nature of comedy is served up open-faced and raw while the rhythmic pulse of the dialogue remains highly stylized and subtle.

Chris Pine, Zoe Perry - The Lieutenant of Inishmore

There is, of course, a twist to conclude Podraic’s story. It involves Wee Thomas. But be warned that there are other cats in this story who are also forced to endure humiliating indignities.

My rave goes to the old man vs. the young upstart Donny collective of Sean G. Griffin and Coby Getzug. These two actors deliver brilliantly the hilarious polarity between their two characters as they attempt several extreme measures to mitigate Podraic’s murderous path of vengeance.

Other cast members included Brett Ryback who plays the character of a drug dealer whose life is turned upside down by Podraic. Also in the cast are Andrew Connolly, Kevin Kearns and Ian Alda, playing a stereotypical gang of Irish baddies bent on revenge, whose actions send the story off into a kaleidoscope of horror and humor.

Kevin Kearns, Andrew Connolly, Ian Alda - The Lieutenant of Inishmore

The staging was well done. Surrounding Podraic’s childhood home was a carefully constructed system of angular steps that typify the craggy terrain of the Island of Inishmore.

My wheedle is that I could not understand some of the dialogue in terms of volume and perhaps a few accent choices made by the actors.

You will enjoy The Lieutenant of Inishmore. During the graphic, bloody action sequences just do what I did: yell, ‘Veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeergil!”

Performance Days and Times

• Tuesday through Friday at 8 p.m.

• Saturday at 2:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

• Sunday at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

• No performances on Mondays.

Ticket Prices: $20 - $65

Tickets are available by

• Calling Center Theatre Group Audience Services at 213.628.2772

• On-line at

• In person at the Center Theatre Group box office at the

Music Center.

Group Sales: 213.972.7231

Deaf community information and charge: TDD 213.680.4017

Center Theatre Group / Mark Taper Forum at 135 N. Grand Ave.

in downtown Los Angeles at the Music Center.

Wayne Bethanis

Wayne Bethanis hosts his own TV show, The Wayne Bethanis Show. He is a well-known concert pianist and entertainer and holds a Ph.D in Musicology.

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