Sunday, February 3, 2019

McDonagh's Cripple of Inishmaan / Fripple Frapples

  Martin McDonagh is a man of many talents.  
I learned recently that McDonagh is not only a playwright, but an Academy Award nominated screen writer/producer/director. He has been called 'a bloody and outlandish storyteller,' witness his self referential film, "Seven Psychopaths" where the main character, a screen writer named "Marty", no less, is  pals with crooks who kidnap dogs for their reward money. His written by, produced by and directed by screenplay, "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" shows his triple threat  creativity
 Director, Steven Robman,  reminds us in program notes that McDonagh and his work are an 'enormous gift.'  Indeed.

 Antaeus Theatre Company's presentation of The Cripple of Inishmaan  is substantially less bloody than McDonagh's  "Seven Psychopaths" but has its moments. The most honest moments of the play, however, turn on the quirky rural culture where survival is a day by day activity. The deep and visceral connection that each of the characters have with their community and with one another is complicated. Secrets are revealed from time to time.  

Inishmaan is a wee Aran island community off the west coast of Ireland where the local news is broadcast regularly by Johnnypateenmike (JD Cullum) for tips of food. He prefers eggs to fekkin' peas!  
Julia Fletcher and Kitty Swink
Photo by Geoffrey Wade Photography

With Antaeus tradition of  double casting, the theatre is fortunate to have depth and breadth in their talent larder so as to invite comparison, giving  audiences the opportunity to return to see how energies and attitudes may shift a bit from a Mallow to a Frapple.    

The Fripple Frapples bring McDonagh's scenes immediately to life.  Within each well honed character the engine that drives the story emerges. Robman's finely tuned direction sets the pace and rigor of the show beautifully.  There's a lilt and a flow to the language that McDonagh's Irish accents embellish.  Some nuances are subtle. Often the message is more direct.  Be honest. Stay true. Pay your debts.

My previous review tells the basic story: Billy, (Matthew Grondin) suffers from birth defects that have plagued him for all of his sixteen years. Taken in by two odd "Aunties": Eileen (Julia Fletcher) and Kate (loopy Kitty Swink) who run the general store on the island of Inishmaan. Early on, Bartley's (Joey Millin) longing for his 'sweeties' and a telescope factor in the most amusing way.  

All of his life, Billy has muddled through insults and the issues of his being deformed. In addition to his physical woes, he is all together plagued by (and smitten with Bartley's sister, the crusty russet maned rascal,  Helen (Abby Wilde). Helen makes it very clear that she'll brook no nonsense from anyone, including the local Catholic clergy whom she brags that she's pegged with eggs in retaliation for having her arse groped at choir practice!

Billy longs to escape the ties that bind him to Inishmaan and when hearing from Johnnypateenmike of a Hollywood film production on the neighboring island of Inishmore, he coaxes Babbybobby (Seamus Deaver) to ferry him across the seas, along with Helen and  Bartley to get into the movies. Billy's goal: to escape Inishmaan and to become his own person: even a famous Hollywood actor. (How hard could that be?)

Johnnypateenmike's life's goal has been to see his Mammy (Anne Gee Byrd!!) deadTo that end, he encourages her to drink... a lot. The business of his owing her a hundred pounds for many years factors in an ironic way. 
Matthew Grondin and Phil Ptoctor
Photo by Geoffrey Wade Photography

Scenes with Dr. McSherry (Philip Proctor) attempting to treat dear old Mammy are hilarious. Later, while dealing with injuries sustained by Billy, we hear that misdeeds are debts that must be paid.

Deception and emerging secrets slowly evolve to share personal revelations and a wee bit of redemption.

John Iacovelli's rustic set reflects the rugged coast of InishmaanProjections and lighting by Kaitlyn Pietras and Jason H. Thompson are perfect.   

Antaeus Theatre Company presents

The Cripple of Inishmaan by

Martin McDonagh

Directed by Steven Robman

Kiki and David Gindler Performing Arts Center

110 E. Broadway

Glendale, California 91205  
Through March 11, 2019

Tickets and information 

818 506 5436

The play is double cast. Check the Antaeus website for information for each cast. See them both for an education in well done theatre.

No comments:

Post a Comment