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Seattle by David-Edward Hughes

Black Irish Comedy Expertly Done in
The Lieutenant of Inishmore at ACT Theatre

Also see David's review of Three Tall Women

The Lieutenant of Inishmore
MJ Sieber, Jeffrey Fracé, and Seán G. Griffin
Cat-lovers and the faint of heart may as well steer clear of ACT Theatre's The Lieutenant of Inishmore, but fans of earlier works of Irish playwright Martin McDonagh (The Beauty Queen of Leenane, A Skull in Connemara) will, I dare say, have a bloody good time watching this black comic farce, directed with relish by Kurt Beattie and performed with gusto by a strong cast, who delight in poking fun at the darker aspects of the human condition.

Set on the inhospitable Irish Isle of Inishmore, in the ramshackle cottage of dithering old codger Donny and his beyond doltish younger sidekick Davey, disaster is waiting to strike as the pair fear the repercussions of Donny's grown son Padraic, an uber-violent Irish revolutionary, learning that his treasured cat Wee Thomas has met an untimely end after being hit by a bike. Davey, who recovers the dead cat, is suspected by Donny of being the responsible party, which Davey vehemently denies. Despite ill-advised efforts to conceal the cat's demise, Padraic (who has been busy torturing an enemy) does indeed have a violent response to the loss of his pet, but that's hardly a stitch on the havoc to come when three INLA agents arrive with murderous designs on Padraic. But Padraic has taken up with Davey's butch and brutal sister Mairead who handles the agents in a particularly bloody fashion. Once they are dispatched ... well that would be telling, but at least one of the aforementioned characters has an unexpectedly happy ending, amidst buckets of stage blood, and a slew of slick, sick humor.

Wonderful veteran character man Seán G. Griffin and side-splitting comic actor MJ Sieber are perfect as the bumbling principal pair of goofs, easily convincing us they haven't a complete brain between them. Jeffrey Fracé as wacko revolutionary Padraic conveys physical menace while earning his share of the laughs, and Elise Hunt is a satisfyingly tough and wild eyed Mairead. Tim Hyland, Brian D. Simmons and David Roby have their moments as Padraic's chums turned tormentors.

The vividly detailed scenic design by Thomas Lynch captures the tale's gloomy and impoverished locale admirably, and benefits from an accomplished lighting design by Mary Louise Geiger and perfectly appointed costumes by Cathy Hunt.

At a brisk 90 minutes, The Lieutenant of Inishmore offers up some solid laughs, a few shudders, and a barrel full of bloody blarney.

The Lieutenant of Inishmore runs Tuesday-Sunday through November 14, ACT Theatre, 700 Union St., Seattle; $10-$55 (206-292-7676 or www.acttheatre.org.


Photo: Chris Bennion

See the list of this season's theatre offerings in the Seattle area.



- David Edward Hughes



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