The Lieutenant of Inishmore
Even US Beasts are aware of the hit BBC tv series Poldark. If you’re into period dramas set in Cornwall, check it out and get to know the breakout star, Aidan Turner, who is, shall we say, easy on the eyes. Turner currently is starring on stage in a slightly more modern story, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, a tale of a bad guy caught up in horrible 90s Northern Irish violence, and with a sick pet cat to boot.
Inishmore was written Martin McDonagh, whom most of us now know as the writer/director of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and debuted in 2001, landing on Broadway five years later. This engaging revival, at London’s Noel Coward Theatre, is directed by Michael Grandage (last hitting it out of the park with Broadway’s Frozen).
This is not for the faint hearted – audiences will get murder, cursing, and topical terrorism and touches of gore which are laughed off. And will Poldark fans get beauty shots of the star? Well, that depends on your idea of beauty. Don’t look for topless wheatcropping. This, obviously, is a different character by far, and Turner is good here as Padraic. Cast as a disturbed protagonist, he handles the comedic aspects as well as the dark drama quite well.
It is the early 1990s, and Padraic has gone to Belfast to get a job as the first ceasefire between the British and the paramilitaries had been established. His previous employement wasn’t so pleasant, you’ll see, but surely he can cut those ugly ties and move on? Well, maybe, except for that damn cat. Padraic does have feelings, in spite of what you’ve just learned.
If you saw Three Billboards, you might guess that McDonagh likes to mix things up, giving lots of banter, to his characters in the midst of dark events. Some old mates from Padraic’s splinter group, played brightly by Will Irvine, Julian Moore-Cook and Daryl McCormack, argue and goof off when they aren’t being horribly serious. And there is even romance in the air for our hero, in the form of political activist Mairead, played on the down-low by Charlie Murphy.
17 years on, can we, we can, laugh about the situation brought to life here. One of the best bits of Irish culture is having a laugh about the desperate, so check your PC worries at the door and enjoy a sharp but dark comedy.
Through September 8, 2018 at Noel Coward Theatre, London
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Lieutenant of Inishmore images credit: Johan Persson
A former ABC National, Dallas and Atlanta radio personality, Martina O'Boyle is now making movies and covering culture in London, Dublin, and as far in Europe as the cheapie flights will take her, for Pop Culture Beast.