The Pillowman has had some of the best reviews that a Broadway play has had in a long time. The NYTimes basically said it was a must see. I got tickets when I re-upped our subscription at the Manhattan Theater Club. I was thrilled because the seats were very hard to come by.
I want to say I loved it because the acting was so superb, but the story line is a bit haunting to say the least. So, it is hard to love the content. The play is dark and disturbing but at times comical and clever. The playwright, Martin McDonagh, has won a variety of awards from his first play and onward. Although I have never seen other plays of his, the titles all seem a bit dark. He might be dark but he is one helluva clever writer.
Everyone’s performance in this play is stellar. Billy Crudup, who I saw in The Elephant Man a few years back, is one of the best actors of his time. He commands the stage even when he is just sitting idle. He goes from crying to happy to brooding. Jeff Goldblum, who I have been a fan of forever, is also excellent. He plays the good cop role with a dark twist perfectly. There are other fine performances by Michael Stuhlbarg as the retarded deeply disturbed brother so well that it would be hard to imagine him as anything else. Zeljko Ivanek, plays the bad cop who is also disturbed. Every character in this group has many layers that come across in their performances.
The story line is of a 2 brothers. One raised as the perfect child, the other also raised as the perfect child until the parents begin torturing him for 7 years in his room while the other child listens on not knowing that there actually is another child. Needless to say, these kids grow up into very fucked up adults. The younger brother, played by Billy Crudup, a writer who writes incredibly haunting and disturbing stories. The play takes place in a jail where him and his brother are being held on the killing of children.
Based on that story line, you have to wonder why I’d love the play. The whole world is so dysfunctional but this play is a glimpse into nature vs. nurture. You read about horrific stories in our media driven society daily. We have become almost immune to the horror of it all. This play takes this to another level. You like the characters but are repulsed by them at the same time. You feel for them but realize how evil they are. Yet have they been made evil or were they just born that way. The cops also have horrific tales in their pasts. I guess questioning, doesn’t everyone have something in their closet?
All and all, a very clever, deeply disturbing, fine performance. I loved it.