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Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The Lieutenant of Inishmore

In Your Face Theatre

Genre: Drama

Venue: Hill Street Drama Lodge, 19 Hill Street 


Low Down

Irish dark comedy from “In Bruges” author Martin McDonagh 


Before the action started we were given and asked to wear plastic ponchos with garbage bags for our feet and legs. Not knowing the show I had no idea why I would need to wear plastic to view a play. We sat in the round surrounding the actors in a small room where the walls, ceiling and floor were covered in black plastic as well. This immersive experience got me intrigued and I did not mind a bit that I was covered in plastic that made me hot and sticky. On a butcher’s table a man with hands tied, dressed in only pants and covered in blood lies very still. I wondered if we were meant to think: Is he dead? The psychopathic, violent character Mad Padraic burst forward and an intensely immersive experience began. I had been hoping to encounter something such a thing at the Edinburgh Fringe and I found it.

The action takes place on the island of Inishmore, County Galway, Ireland in 1993. Mad Padraic is a member of the splinter group the INLA (Irish National Liberation Army) and is fast at work pulling out the toenails of Jimmy, the drug dealer. Padraic gets a call from his dad on his mobile that his cat, Wee Thomas, has taken ill. He drops the torture and goes home to be with his beloved animal to discover that Wee Thomas is dead. Padraic is determined to seek revenge. He is about to put a bullet through his dad’s head when his INLA comrades enter intent on controlling Padraic’s violent outbursts. It turns out the Jimmy the drug dealer was paying them protection money and Padraic was supposed to leave him to his business. For the next hour I experienced outstanding storytelling that combined unexpected terror, high comedy and lots of spattered faux blood.

The Lieutenant of Inishmore is presented by the In Your Face Theatre Company. Company directors Chris Rybak and Craig Boyle have created an engrossing theatrical experience that never failed to surprise and thrill. The acting is magnificent and fierce. Bold choices are made that had me engaged from start to finish.  I highly recommend this production.