REVIEW: The Pillowman – Lyric Theatre, Belfast

pillowman-gf-edit-thumbMy intentional reaction to Pillowman was unusual for me, I was left speechless.

Trying to muster words for the incredible story which had just unfolded in front of me was hard as I was gobsmacked. I think it was a first!

Having not read the play before or seen any productions, although it has been around since its initial rehearsed reading in 1997, I was unaware of the twists and turns that the narrative would take. However I was aware of previous work by Martin McDonagh and how fabulously twisted and very not politically correct his mind can be – I absolutely adore In Bruges and Seven Psychopath’s as well as the Leanne Trilogy.

The play opens up with a stark prison cell and an interrogation takes place. As the story teller is questioned over three child murders, the play like the set unwinds, opens up and reveals some interesting secrets.

That’s putting it very simplistically the story teller and main protagonist Katurian Katurian, played by the talented Peter Campio,  is a most unsuccessful writer: his stories have been read by almost no-one, and there is little prospect that they will be published. He is, after all, living in a totalitarian dictatorship where the police boast that they like to execute writers.

However these brothers Grimm type tales have had an audience, that of his mentally and physically scarred Brother Michal, played by Michael Ford-Fitzgerald. The plot questions our own morality, what we consider as being right and wrong. What affect a writer/ a story has on our lives and whether as the old adage goes the pen is mightier than the sword. This makes it sound pretty heavy and a hard watch but although at parts I did grimace and shed a tear, the comic timing and one-liners in the script have an audience laughing at all the right but so very wrong times.

Add to this an eerie soundscape and the fabulous good cop, bad cop characters of  Tupolski and Ariel, David Savage and Gary Lyndon, and you have what I have to admit is one of my favourite plays this year. Fantastic performances, great pace and direction and it caused an amazing buzz in the Lyric bar after show time. I have never seen an audience so alive with discussion of “what did we just watch”. Go out and grab a ticket now I promise you won’t be disappointed. Emer Dooris, GiggingNI.com