Martin McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan is a black comedy featuring Billy (William Rees) who is born crippled, his family and a host of locals. Billy et al live in the isolated island community of Inishmaan, off the west coast of Ireland. Inishmaan is a one horse town, where everyone’s business is gossip fodder for the bored villagers. When filming of a Hollywood movie begins on a nearby island the small community is sent into an excited flurry.
Chief gossip is Johnnypateenmike (Laurence Coy) who is intent on keeping his Irish mammy in a never ending supply of plonk – all the better for hastening her death, except as far as plans go it is fraught. Whisky, it would seem, has restorative qualities. Jude Gibson plays it for laughs as the IM (Irish Mammy) – flirting with her doctor as he attempts to examine her, while her son tries to work information from the doc, to add to his supply of never ending gossip dressed up as news.
Newcomer William Rees is a highlight in this show that isn’t as amusing as I’d hoped. McDonagh was the writer of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, so he knows dark humour. This play veers too often into banal stereotypes of the Irish. As the titular cripple, Rees exudes warmth and good humour, in spite of the constant reminders of his cripple status. Jane Watt as Helen also shines with her cackling laugh and violent tendencies keeping all on edge. Watt has her comic acting down to a fine craft and she, along with Rees, make this production worth seeing.
Director Claudia Barrie has assembled an impressive cast and technical crew, still sound and set design made me forget that I was at the Old Fitz. Let’s face it: the Red Line Productions team has regularly taken us to darker and riskier places. This production is so conventional it is a mystery how it made it to this theatre and into Mad March Hare Productions’ repertoire.
The Cripple of Inishmaan is presented by Mad March Hare Theatre Company in conjunction Red Line Productions and is on until 10 August. For more information & tickets see: https://www.redlineproductions.com.au/
Director: Claudia Barrie
Featuring: Jane Watt, Josh Anderson, Jude Gibson, Sarah Aubrey, William Rees, Laurence Coy, John Harding, Megan O’Connell and Alex Bryant Smith.
Above image by Marnya Roth