Friday, March 04, 2016

'Hangmen' by Martin McDonagh

4 March 2016

The Irish playwright Martin McDonagh has carved out a reputation for violently black comedy. Hi stage play 'The Leiutenant of Inishmore' and his screenplays 'In Bruges' and 'The Guard' share a bleak humour. His latest work 'Hangmen' is another great example of this style. Set in Lancashire in the mid 1960s, the play deals with one of the last hangmen as he comes to terms with the abolition of capital punishment. The scenes in an Oldham pub felt like a particularly funny episode of Coronation Street – albeit with more swearing. Matthew Dunster's Royal Court production (which we saw at Cineworld in Milton Keynes as a NTLive broadcast from Wyndham's Theatre in London) stars David Morrissey as the hangman Harry Wade. He is joined by a fabulous cast of comic characters. Although there is some hysterically funny dialogue, much of the comedy comes from the well-drawn characters and their believable reactions to a dramatic turn of events. Morrissey is a master of the double-take: you can almost see his brain processing information while he is mistakenly ranting at someone and he then manages to turn his mood on a sixpence. 'Hangmen' has plenty of McDonagh's trademark wince-inducing moments of violence which shouldn't be funny – but really are. And Johnny Flynn is both menacing and creepy as a very out-of-place crude but erudite Londoner – an unexplained stranger who the Guardian review of the play wittily described as a 'Pinterloper'.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home