Wednesday, 22 August 2018

THEATRE | THE LIEUTENANT OF INISHMORE STARRING AIDAN TURNER


I've been on a bit of a theatre binge ever since I got back from France so apologies for posting two play reviews so close to one another. I hadn't planned on blogging about this one but had a few requests over on instagram to talk about how I found it when I revealed I was watching it so here goes! Basically I hadn't planned on seeing this play either but my friend got us day seats which was incredibly kind of her. I was quite a big fan of Aidan when he'd just been in The Hobbit but then got positively bored of Poldark so didn't think too much of it when he was announced to do theatre. I entered the Noel Coward theatre without having read any of the reviews so I didn't know what it was going to be about apart from the fact that the title kept reminding me of a play called The Cripple of Inishmaan which I saw Daniel Radcliffe in a few years back (I only just researched as I was typing this that apparently both these plays are written by the same guy, Martin McDonagh). Unfortunately not only the similar titles kept associating in my head as I was watching The Lieutenant of Inishmore but also how much I preferred the previous play. Honestly I struggle with comedies, that's the basis of it. I must have a really strange sense of humour but I always find the randomest things funny and then not understand other things that are meant to be hilarious. But I remember finding The Cripple of Inishmaan funny? Anyway we'll talk about it...


The play is labelled as a black comedy and tells the story of Padraic, a former member of the Irish Liberation Army, a paramilitary organization fighting for Northern Ireland's independence from the United Kingdom in 1993. He has a legendary, explosive, violent temper, hence why he was kicked out of the IRA for "being too mad". Never one to back down, Padraic joined the violent IRA splinter group, the Irish National Liberation Army. Padraic is a lieutenant in the INLA, and spends his time torturing those who have committed wrongs (according to Padraic's own moral code) and planning mediocre bombings of civil institutions. However, Padraic is far more obsessed with killing people and mutilating their bodies than he is with any official "cause" — for Padraic, his own whim is cause enough to wreak havoc. He sees the violence as part of his job, as sending a fax might be part of his job if he worked in an office. Padraic's one soft spot though, is for his childhood cat, Wee Thomas and one day he returns home to find out that his beloved cat has been killed. Back at home before Padraic arrives, his father Donny and Davey, a slow-witted neighbourhood boy who's been accused of running over Wee Thomas with his bike, furiously think up a plan to stop Padraic from getting angry and erm, going on a murderous rampage on the town, in pursuit of finding the killer and revenge.


Don't get me wrong, it's a funny play. But that's it really. I found it of very little substance other than all the laughs it conjured up. And there's really nothing wrong with that either. Definitely not the one if you're after a play that will make you think long after the curtains go down, but a really sharp and entertaining two hours that had the audience around me in fits. Chris Walley is particularly memorable as the slightly punk but ultimately good-hearted Davey, in my opinion posessing exceptional comic timing and a strong repartee with Denis Conway (Donny). Charlie Murphy, the only girl in the cast and who I was already familiar with from The Last Kingdom and Peaky Blinders (she's such a sweetheart irl too), is also absolutely fantastic as budding revolutionary and tomboy Mairead, all sports cropped hair with an almost innocence to her psychopathic violence. Oh and she showcases such a beautiful singing voice in this! Last but certainly not least, let's talk about Aidan. I think the problem was, just 48 hours before, I had watched someone who naturally speaks with a northern accent, put on an absolutely flawless Irish accent and act his heart out dramatically, and no matter how different these two plays are, it lingered in the back of my mind watching Lieutenant. Aidan is great as Padraic, he's able to carry the play and make the audience laugh, I mean all in all, he's a solid actor. But this performance didn't wow me and I can't help but wonder if people would be singing the same praises if it wasn't the doppelgänger of Ross Poldark up on that stage, all biceps in a tight tank top. That's the reality of it.


The Lieutenant of Inishmore is at the Noel Coward Theatre until the 8th of September and tickets can be found here

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