If blood and curse words offend you, you’ll want to stay clear of Martin McDonagh’s “The Lieutenant of Inishmore” now playing at the Mark Taper Forum in downtown Los Angeles. The officer is not a gentleman, at least not in the sense recognized by the U.S. military or the Geneva Convention. We’re talking about an Irish lad who’s “too mad” for the IRA.
Padraic (played by Chris Paine as a no-nonsense straight-shooting man with no safety lock on his temper) is a lieutenant in the Irish National Liberation Army, a group splintered off from the Original Irish Republican Army, which was also a splinter of the Irish Republican Army. He’s now thinking he might also splinter off into his own group.
Padraic is troubled by the drug-dealing–particularly selling drugs to young Catholics. Yet he’s thoughtful even while torturing the local marijuana dealer and takes care to point out his generosity. Yet the INLA needs the drug money and Padraic’s fellow INLA members like the one-eyed Christy (Andrew Connolly) can’t control Padraic’s sense of moral outrage on this point.
This sets into motion the killing of wee Thomas, Padraic’s best friend, left in the custody of Padraic’s father, Donny (Sean G. Griffin). Thomas has been found with his head bashed in and the long-haired Davey (Coby Getzug) has been implicated by Christy. Davey’s sister, Mairead, best known around the county for shooting out the eyes of cows as a means of protest, is angered. Mairead not only idolizes Padraic, she has a cat named Sir Roger and wee Thomas is, or rather was, a black cat.
This 2001 play leads us into the world of the absurd and director Wilson Milam astutely paces this piece, punctuating it with uncomfortable silences and rapid fire insults. From nervous twitters of laughter to full out guffaws, this ensemble squeezes out every drop of mirth that can be had from this blood bath of a love story between cat and owner and misguidedly blind though dedicated freedom fighters.
According to the press materials, McDonagh chose the INLA because “they seemed so extreme.” McDonagh has won an Academy Award for the Best Live Action Short Film (“the 2006 “Six Shooter”) and an Olivier Award for the 2003 “The Pillowman.” He has been nominated four times for the Best Play Tony Award (the 1996 “The Beauty Queen of Leenane,” the 1997 “The Lonesome West,” this 2001 play and the 2003 “The Pillowman”).
There’s plenty of bloody bad luck and black humor in this Irish journey into the absurd and beneath it all, there’s a message if you’re interested in looking for it in the eyes of the psychopathic Padraic.
“The Lieutenant of Inishmore” continues until 8 August 2010 at the Mark Taper Forum. For more information, call (213) 628-2772 or online at www.CenterTheatreGroup.org