"a first-rate revival"
-The Guardian-

"an inspired choice for the West End"
-The Daily Telegraph-

"a blend of bloodbath and cartoon caper"
-The Evening Standard-

Sorry, The Lieutenant of Inishmore closed on 08 Sep 2018

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Critic Rating

2 July 2018, Noel Coward Theatre
Susannah Martin Susannah Martin
Has there ever been a more appealing combination than Michael Grandage, Martin McDonagh and Aidan Turner? The revival of this 1994 dark comedy may not serve the same purpose as it did on its premiere in 2001, but the rumbling undertones of male volatility and infectious violence are as pertinent as ever.

Aptly paired with John Logan’s Red, The Lieutenant of Inishmore is just as crimson as the former, and certainly not for the faint-hearted. Set in 1993 Northern Ireland, McDonagh wrote the play in response to the increasing danger of the IRA. It’s a satirical jab at the terror group, whose past attacks have included bin bombs and chip-shop explosions. Once a tentative, treacherous play, Inishmore has become a vehicle for blood-cladded hilarity.

Padraic, or “Mad Padraic” as he is better-known, is in the middle of a torture session. Deemed too crazy to join the IRA, and forming his own splinter-group, his nonchalance toward physical violence and passion for pistols has brought him quite the reputation. But when he gets the call about his sick (or very dead) cat Wee Thomas, he is determined to catch the culprit of his demise.

Aidan Turner is electric as the lead role, exuding magnetism and charisma that almost makes this fiend likeable. He has a menacing swagger, and switches perfectly between het-up terrorist to emotional wreck – he’s psychotic. Best-known for playing the wistful Poldark, his comic turn in Inishmore harks back to his Desperate Romantic days as the insatiable Rosetti. He’s a terrific actor.

There’s tremendous support too, from Charlie Murphy as gun-obsessed teenager Mairead, the sole female in this male-dominated isle, and from Denis Conway as Padraic’s father Donny. Conway gets most of the obvious jokes of the night, delivering one-liners in a deadpan fashion that creates laugh-out loud moments. Daryl McCormack and Julian Moore-Cook are also good as part of the hapless trio that come to take out Padraic – only to end up with their brains up the walls. Notably, Chris Walley is superb as the hysterical, mullet-haired Davey, who simply found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Taking place within Christopher Oram’s white-walled set, which you immediately know is white for a reason, the action is incredibly fast-paced. It could do with losing the interval, as it quickly ramps up in the second part, but director Michael Grandage ekes out every bit of comedy possible, making for a thoroughly entertaining evening that spills out (quite literally) into the audience.

Reviewed by Susannah Rose Martin.

Michael Billington
McDonagh’s real gift, however, is for pushing a situation to its most brutal extreme, and being funny with it. This is Titus Andronicus played for laughs.
Dominic Cavendish
Turner’s intense stare carries a surprising amount of charge away from the small-screen. What’s more of a revelation, though, is his capacity to turn on a sixpence between hard-man and cry-baby – the deadpan effect at once comical and disquieting.
Henry Hitchings
Martin McDonagh’s play, revived by director Michael Grandage as a blend of bloodbath and cartoon caper, pokes fun at the more demented forms of political extremism, and as the body parts pile up Turner switches nimbly between dead-eyed coolness and twinkly volatility.
Andrzej Lukowski
Revived by Michael Grandage after first being seen in 2001, ’The Lieutenant of Inishmore’ is a very funny and stupendously violent dark comedy that plays out a bit like Tarantino directing an episode of ‘Father Ted’.
Mark Shenton
As Lyn Gardner wrote when the RSC production originally transferred to the West End's Garrick Theatre, "this is a terrific play about a serious subject that's touched with a Monty Pythonesque insanity."
Natasha Tripney
The play is a taut comedy that rapidly escalates into mayhem and bloodshed. So much bloodshed. There are innards. There are severed limbs. There are multiple cat corpses. There is spillage.
Matt Trueman
Conway deadpans down pat as Padraic's dad, Will Irvine's one-eyed hitman finds the stupidity of menace and RADA grad Walley makes a promising goofy debut, but like bin blasts and bomb threats, McDonagh's satire now feels old hat.