Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Reading Journal: The Pillowman

This morning, I sat in Goodbye Blue Monday with my small cappuccino and raspberry croissant and became completely absorbed in Irish playwright Martin McDonagh's Olivier Award-winning play, The Pillowman. Of course, I prefer seeing plays on the stage to reading them as texts, but this play seemed to jump off the page and stage itself in my head. It was brilliant, disturbing, and utterly captivating. Scene: a police interrogation room in an unnamed totalitarian state. Katurian, a writer, is under interrogation because two children have been found murdered in the same bizarre and brutal manners as children in Katurian's stories. McDonagh develops this disturbing premise into a chilling, gruesome, and darkly comic exploration of the human need for stories, with echoes of Kafka, Stoppard, Mamet, and the Brothers Grimm. The play contains strong language, and even stronger images—which, somehow, are brought to life on the stage. The play challenges the audience to make sense out of its strange complexities, and then seems deliberately to baffle any attempt to discover its meaning. It may be, as one character says, "a puzzle that has no solution." But an utterly fascinating puzzle nonetheless. I'm tempted to make an effort to see the Frank Theater's production of The Pillowman, which is currently running at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis (until October 14). The original London production featured Jim Broadbent and David Tennant, and it later premiered in New York with Jeff Goldblum and Billy Crudup. Two dream casts for a spellbinding nightmare of a play.

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