Monday, December 22, 2008

The Cripple of Inishmaan


By Martin McDonagh. Directed by Garry Hynes. Atlantic Theater Company. (CLOSED)

Critics are going ga-ga for this play. There's really not much more to say about it then they love it, love it, love it and that they all really didn't like the play's NY debut ten years ago (poor Jerry Zaks gets kicked around quite a bit in the reviews). The all-Irish production, helmed by Druid Theater's AD Garry Hynes, gets grades ranging from B to A+ (two of 'em! keerist!). Not too shabby. Elyse Sommer at CurtainUp wins the Unintentional Hilarity prize with the sentence, in the midst of rave review: "If I have one complaint about this production it's about the physical staging."

Philadelphia Inquirer A+
(Toby Zinman) Flawless... the strength of the cast, the dead-right detail of the unadorned set, and the extraordinary lighting create an atmosphere so thick, so evocative, that watching the play feels more like being a traveler than a theatergoer; for 21/2 hours you feel as though you are in that village, in 1934.

Wall St. Journal A+
(Terry Teachout) I can only say that the Atlantic Theater Company has got itself a hit, one that will surely transfer to Broadway if anyone there has any sense... . I can't imagine a more knowing performance: The members of Ms. Hynes's cast understand in their bones what Mr. McDonagh's play is about, and bring every line to startlingly vivid life. Playwrights dream of ensembles as fine as this one.

Theatermania A+
(David Finkle) Hurry, hurry, hurry to the Atlantic Theater, where Martin McDonagh's work of tragicomic genius, The Cripple of Inishmaan, is easily the funniest play now in New York. Actually, side-splitting, rib-tickling, knee-slapping is more like it -- not to mention heartbreaking and soul-crushing. And yes, while this script is the same one that was seen on the Public Theatre's stage in 1998, this far superior production is definitely what McDonagh intended.

(Richard Seff) This play and this production accomplish what theatre always aims for - to inform, to educate, to entertain, to take us to places and to meet people we’d never see or meet, and to allow us to get to know them in all their glorious humanity. A welcome gift from the Emerald Isle.

Total Theater A
(Simon Saltzman) This is a wonderful play made more wonderful by an exemplary cast and a director who brings out the best.

The Observer A
(John Helipern) IT'S GOOD NEWS that the Druid Theatre Company’s smashing revival of Martin McDonagh’s gothic farce The Cripple of Inishmaan (1997) has extended its run at the Linda Gross Theater through March 1. While we might argue that its plot is just as messily incredible as Becky Shaw’s, Mr. McDonagh’s mad daring is of a higher, scintillating order—some would say the highest—provided you have a taste for liberating, darkly Irish humor, which you surely do.

The New York Times A
(Ben Brantley) Happily, with this staging — which features Marie Mullen, one of the splendid stars of Beauty QueenCripple emerges as a subversive charmer that shows off Mr. McDonagh’s skills as an expectation-thwarting master of knotted yarns. I didn’t see Nicholas Hytner’s widely praised original production for the National Theater in London. But it’s hard to imagine an interpretation that makes this play’s singular melding of sentimentality and savagery feel more organic than this one does. A
(Robert Feldberg) The production, which originated at the Druid Theatre in Galway, is much better than the play's New York debut 10 years ago, when an American director, using a mixed cast of Irish and American actors, failed to find the play's voice, or a rhythm for performing it. This time, with Garry Hynes, the Druid's artistic director and the leading interpreter of Irish plays in America, directing a superb, largely Irish cast, there's a consistency of performance and a subtle sense of layers and connections that make all the difference.

New York Post A
(Frank Scheck) This version features a nearly all-Irish cast and is far superior to the one seen a decade ago at the Public. Flawlessly staged by Garry Hynes and superbly acted, it ratchets up the play's emotional depth while sacrificing little of its bleak humor.

The Daily News A
(Joe Dziemianowicz)Presented by ATC and Galway's Druid theater company, the show moves so surely you feel transported.
Not just to one of the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland where the story unfolds, but to a blissful spot a show can take you when everything is clicking. And this production taps along sweeter than a troupe of Killarney stepdancers, fueled by Garry Hynes' keen direction and its impeccable ensemble, intact from the play's U.K. tour.

New York Magazine A-
(Stephanie Zacharek) The drunkard, the gum-flapping gossip, the local girl who’ll kick the bejesus out of any poor sod who lays a hand on her: Martin McDonagh’s bruised-black comedy The Cripple of Inishmaan may be loaded with Irish stereotypes, but his characters are stereotypes with their souls showing through. And the actors in Garry Hynes’s production—a collaboration between the Atlantic Theater Company and Galway’s Druid Theatre Company—stoke that inner glow so skillfully it ultimately catches fire.

Talkin' Broadway A-
(Matthew Murray) Yet if The Cripple of Inishmaan doesn’t spin a yarn as self-tangling as The Pillowman’s does, and if its greater lessons are virtually nonexistent compared to those in The Lieutenant of Inishmore, it’s still an amazing little play that thrives on dreams sought, denied, and lost. At the center of this swirling vortex of foggy hopes in 1934 Ireland is Billy (Aaron Monaghan): His left arm and leg are twisted into uselessness, but his dreams of personal success, learning more about himself, and women - are as straight and true as for any young man.

NYTheatre A-
(David Gordon) Humanity in a McDonagh play? How is that possible? It's not really found in the play itself (which is a lesser work in McDonagh's storied canon), but in the wrenching staging by Garry Hynes and the performances by the superb ensemble.... Suffice it to say, this production, a holiday present to New York City theatergoers, makes a case for the play. And given the track record of Atlantic-to-Broadway transfers, it wouldn't surprise me if we see The Cripple of Inishmaan get his day in Midtown rather soon. Well deserved.

CurtainUp A-
(Elyse Sommer) New York audiences were first introduced to Martin McDonagh's marvelous ear for the language of the loutish folk who inhabit his plays through the Atlantic Theater's production The Beauty Queen of Leenane which moved on to Broadway, as did their more recent presentation The Lieutenant of Inishman. While this is The Cripple of Inishmaan' debut at the Atlantic Theater, it had its New York premiere at the Public Theater with an American director and cast. If you saw and enjoyed it then, as I did, you'll find that it's even funnier and more poignant with the Druid Theatre Company's cast intact from its successful U.K. tour and helmed by the company's founder and long-time artistic director, Garry Hynes

The New Yorker B+
(Unsigned) The ensemble deftly navigates McDonagh’s rough terrain of alternating darkness and humor, painting a sharp portrait of a world where cruelty is inseparable from love.

American Theater Web B+
(Andy Probst) Hynes' production, which she's staged as a co-production between the Atlantic and her own Druid Theatre Company in Dublin, and the performances deftly navigate the duality of McDonagh's script, which, on one level, is something of a simple slice of life play about this tight-knit community and its idiosyncratic inhabitants' predictable day-to-day existence. What sparks Cripple to a level beyond being just a humor infused charmer is McDonagh's ability to combine the ordinariness of Inishmaan with a hefty level of danger...As Cripple reaches its conclusion, the play's emotional toll is not only quite high, it's also enormously satisfying.

(David Cote) McDonagh’s control of grotesquerie never tips too far into cartoon, while director Garry Hynes and members of Ireland’s Druid Theatre Company nail the deadpan lyricism; their visiting production deftly shifts from bitter satire to flashes of compassion. The result is deliciously outrageous—but thanks to the leavening laughs, never an outrage.

Associated Press B+
(Michael Kuchwara) In director Garry Hynes, McDonagh has found the perfect midwife to bring the play back to New York, especially after a much different, more cartoonish production 10 years ago proved disappointing. Hynes, who runs the Druid, has tapped into a joint Irish-American cast, and her actors makes a compelling argument for Inishmaanas one of McDonagh's finest plays.

The Village Voice B
(Michael Feingold) With [its] zestful storytelling and sardonic humor comes an ingenuity that sometimes turns glibly show-offy and manipulative. With [its] arrestingly dark vision comes a kind of smirking satisfaction in glutting the audience's appetite for unpleasantness or explicit violence. And, hand in hand with the genuine love McDonagh displays for the stark, quirky, distant life of Ireland's craggy, sparsely populated West goes a bothersome hint of condescension... no matter how truthfully The Cripple of Inishmaan is played, it's hard to see what truth, if any, its writing contains.

AM New York B
(Matt Windman) Staged on a wooden set, director Garry Hynes well-acted, literally dark production highlights both the play’s cruel humor and its sadness

Bloomberg B-
(John Simon) McDonagh (who lives in London) has his fun with these people in what is essentially a city slicker’s chaffing patronization of country bumpkins. He has been steadily compared to Synge, O’Casey and Brendan Behan, but when they indulged in satire, it did not preclude some genuine empathy as well... Be that as it may, Garry Hynes has directed her mixed cast of American and imported Irish actors to good, often droll effect.

WSJ A+ 14; TM A+ 14; PI A+ 14; NJC A 13; NYO A; NYP A 13; DCTS A 13; TT A 13; NYT A 13; TDN A 13; NYM A- 12; TB A- 12; NYTH A- 12; CU A- 12; TNY B+ 11; TONY B+ 11; AP B+ 11; ATW B+ 11; VV B 10; AMNY B 10;BLOOMBERG B- 9; TOTAL: 255/ 21= 12.14 A-

1 comment:

Aaron Riccio said...

I can't read the reviews yet as I've yet to finish writing mine, but can you make the Unintentional Hilarity award an official thing? Or something that readers can vote on and submit? Might be a way to get people more involved in thinking critically about critical writing...