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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: October 10, 2008 @ 11:25 am

    The Cripple of Inishmaan

    Fiona McCann

    Druid’s production of the Cripple of Inishmaan, currently running at the Olympia, is an off screen illustration of why playwright turned director Martin McDonagh was so hailed and hyped long before he moved to movies. This is a dark, grim and blackly comic staging of this 11-year-old play, set in the 1930s but with a self-awareness that resonates in the present. Aaron Monaghan plays the eponymous cripple with fitting dignity, while the rest of this stellar cast tread the line between dark and light with admirable skill. My only complaint related to sound levels, with some of the dialogue lost to my delicate (read damaged) ears. Whether this was down to the acoustics at the Olympia or poor amplification, it did detract from somewhat from an otherwise positive experience. Jokes are never funny when they’re repeated, and even less so for other theatre-goers. Anyone see it?

    • CD says:

      Fiona, I always regarded myself as somewhat tolerant and accepting of most things/people in life. However, Monday night at the Olympia changed all that. I am disappointed/mystified by the positive coverage this play has received. Admittedly I am only a casual theatre goer, but this play was the most embarrassing paddyesque tripe I have ever witnessed. Between theatre & film, I have never come across a more basic and inane story. (The phrase “could have been written by a 9 year old” comes to mind). And the attempted twist with the letter? Stevie Wonder could have seen that one coming. Anyway, one man’s opinion and all that… What disturbed/disgusted/depressed me most was the presence of the stereo-typical “thespians” pontificating in their feigned south Dublin accents on how gritty and insightful the play was. I overheard one of them referencing Tarantino! Jesus wept

    • emmet says:

      I couldn’t agree more. It was so clumsy I thought it was like a bad school play. The dialogue was puerile and the plot was directionless. I didn’t understand the motivation of [spoiler alert] Babby Bobby attacking the cripple or Helen agreeing to walk with him. The Cripple being brought to America for a screen test seemed unbelievable and the constant revelations about the Cripple’s parents just became tiresome. All the characters were entirely one dimensional.

      As for the crowd, people constantly getting up to go to the loo in the middle of the performance, enthusiastically clapping every scene change, of which there were far too many. And kudos to the staff who decided to clean the bar during the second half of the show accompanied by much clattering of glasses and cups. (It’s not a concert guys!)

      Compared to similar plays like “The Playboy of the Western World” or the recent “The Wier” this was an incredibly poor effort.

    • Fiona says:

      CD, thanks for your thoughts. But couldn’t it be that the overdone “paddyesque” nature of it all was as much a send-up of the same?

      Emmet, I agree with you about poor motivation, and about the general noise levels. I also thought the constant revelations about Billy’s parents went at least one ‘revelation’ too far. That said, there was much to admire in the gutsy performances, humour, and what I saw as a particular self-awareness that mocked overt hommage to Irishness even as it paid its own.

    • Mary says:

      I really enjoyed this play, i though the dialogue was great, having moved from england to ireland as a child, i was mesmerised by the way people talked in rural ireland and mcdonagh certainly captures this. I definitely felt uncomfortable at certain poignant moments and isn’t this what theatre is all about. The acting was superb, particularly aaron monaghan. These plays are not about irishness, they are universal getting to the core of how people survive in certain conditions.

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