Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
The Lieutenant of Inishmore
Also see Susan's review of The Underpants
Playwright Martin McDonagh sets the play on the isolated Irish island of Inishmore, brought into sharp focus by Daniel Conway's scenic design: thick fieldstone walls, framed photos of John F. Kennedy and a bygone pope, sturdy old-fashioned kitchen appliances, and an armchair with a patch of duct tape repairing the worn upholstery. His nominal hero is Padraic (Karl Miller), an Irish nationalist too violent for the Irish Republican Army, whom the audience first sees torturing a drug dealer (Jason Stiles) in Northern Ireland. Padraic might be a sadist when it comes to people he considers enemies of Irish independence, but he dearly loves Wee Thomas, the black cat who has been his only friend for the past 15 years.
Unfortunately, back on Inishmore, someone has killed Wee Thomas, to the distress of Padraic's father Donny (John Lescault) and Davey (Matthew McGloin), the shaggy-haired young man who found the cat's carcass in the road. Davey's sister Mairead (Casie Platt) is a tomboyish 16-year-old with a crush on Padraic and a way with an air rifle, and Padraic has several comrades (Tim Getman, Michael Glenn, Joe Isenberg) who have issues with him.
The absurdity of the situation starts to become obvious when Padraic interrupts his methodical assault on the drug dealer to answer his cell phone; it's his father, warning that Wee Thomas is "feeling poorly." Donny hopes to string Padraic along, eventually telling him about the cat's death, but Padraic is determined to head home and restore the cat to health.
Since McDonagh enjoys language as much as the excesses of stagecraft (watch out for the hacksaws), he provides verbal as well as physical flourishes in the 90-minute course of the play. Among the printable exchanges: the drug dealer offers veterinary advice to Padraic who, taken aback, replies, "I didn't know drug pushers had cats"; Donny reminisces about attacking his mother; Christy (Getman) makes sweeping statements about the necessity of unity among insurgent groups; and, eventually, more than one character says, "Those corpses won't be chopping themselves up."