“The Cripple of Inishmaan” opened last night at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. It was a star studded event full of theatre and film folk all eagerly anticipating seeing this new touring production of this Martin McDonagh classic. It was a pleasure to see Kirk Douglas sitting front row center in his namesake theatre. I was also excited to see Collin Farrell who had worked with Martin McDonagh on McDonagh's movie In Bruges.
The brilliantly funny “The Cripple of Inishmaan” is the second play in McDonagh’s ‘Aran Island Trilogy’. The first “The Lieutenant of Inishmore” was produced last summer (with rave reviews) at the Mark Taper. This production of “The Cripple of Inishmaan” is an Irish touring company produced by the Druid Theatre Company from Galway, Ireland and in association with the Atlantic Theatre Company from New York. Between January and June 2011, it will tour for a record breaking 21 weeks in Ireland and the US. The 17 week US tour is the longest tour by an Irish theatre company in decades. The 21 week tour will conclude on June 26th with two performances in Ireland on the island of Inis Meáin, off the west coast ofIreland, (titled Inishmaan in the play and part of the Aran Islands). It will be the first time ever for the play to be performed there.
It’s 1934 on the Island of Inishmaan of the western coast of Ireland and Cripple Billy (Tadhg Murphy) is like his nickname is a cripple and a misfit in this tiny Irish town. Inishmaan is a small provincial island where everyone knows each other and everyone knows each others business. Cripple Billy’s parents drowned when he was a baby and he was taken in by his quirky pretend aunts Eileen (Dearbhla Mollyoy) who has a sweet tooth for American candies and Kate (Ingrid Craigie) who talks to stones; both aunts are the owners of the island store. The town gossip or should I say news source JohnnyPateenMike (Dermot Crowley) when not busy making sure his drunken mother - Mammy O’Dougal (Nancy E. Carroll) has a full glass, JohnnyPateenMike has taken upon himself to make sure everyone is abreast of the latest happenings on the Island. The story begins with his news that a Hollywood production company is filming on the neighboring Island of Inishmoore. They are looking to discover local talent to be in the picture and maybe find an unknown whom they can bring to Hollywood and make into a star.
This news sets the town ablaze and locals such as Bartley (Laurence Kinlan) and Slippy Helen (Clare Dunne), the town Doctor – Doctor McSharry (Paul Vincent O’Connor) and BabbyBobby (Liam Carney) are all eager to weigh in on their thoughts of this event.
I hesitate to go any further in describing the events of the play. As with all of Martin McDonagh’s work, it is more potent to experience his works with a naiveté of what is to come. Because I can’t help myself I will give you a few hints; eggs, candy, naughty priests, stones, blood (this is McDonagh after all), gossip, kisses and peas. There I feel better now.
All of the cast played their roles with a technical prowess. They were subtle and perfectly poised on top of everything happening onstage. Inviting the audience to join in rather than sit back in their seats. A few stand out performances for me were Dermot Crawley and his portrayl of JohnnyPateenMike; he seemed to just sink into the skin of this character. The other was Nancy E. Carroll who played Mammy O’Dougal a smaller role but so true to life I swear I’ve met her at some nursing homes I’ve been at. The costumes (Francis O’Connor) and lighting designs (Dave Cunnigham) were excellent. I especially enjoyed the set design (Francis O’Connor) finding it very evocative and leaving me with a nostalgia for a time and place I have never experienced. The directing (Garry Hynes) was also excellent. He skillfully balances the humor and pathos in this Dark Comdey. I highly recommend this production; it may be one of the best plays in currently in production in Los Angeles.
Performance Days and Times:
April 6th thru May 1st 2011
Tuesdays thru Fridays at 8 p.m.
Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Sunday at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
No performances on Mondays
Exceptions: No 1 p.m. performance on April 10th;
no 2 p.m. performance on April 16th
and no 6:30 p.m. performance on April 24th.
Ticket Prices: $20 - $45
9820 Washington Blvd
Available in person at the box office
Online at www.CenterTheatreGroup.org
Or by phone at 213 628 2772
Photos by Craig Schwartz