With The Beauty Queen of Leenane so recently on Broadway and The Lonesome West about to embark there as well, fans of playwright Martin McDonagh might want to venture to Philadelphia to catch another of his acclaimed plays. The Cripple of Inishmaan, one of McDonagh's Aran trilogy, ends its scheduled run at the Wilma Theatre April 4, after starting previews Feb. 24 and opening March 3.
Set in 1934 on one of the three Aran Islands off the West Coast of Ireland, Inishmaan is a pitch-dark comedy that dramatizes the effect upon the islanders of the nearby filming of Robert Flaherty's classic documentary, Man of Aran. As word spreads that Flaherty is coming from Hollywood, young cripple Billy spots his chance to escape from his doldrums existence and impress a local beauty.
The drama was staged by Jerry Zaks at New York's Public Theater, spring 1988, but the production received mixed reviews and was over-shadowed by the critically-lauded and awards-laden Beauty Queen (part of McDonagh's "Connemara Trilogy"). Part two of the Aran trilogy, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, is scheduled to premiere in London later this year.
Co-artistic director Jiri Zizka directs Cripple at the Wilma, where the show is designed by David P. Gordon (set), Jerold R. Forsyth (lighting), and Janus Stefanowicz (costumes). Adam Wernick composed original music for the staging, which stars Daniel P. Curtin as Billy. Also in the cast are June Squibb, Patricia O'Connell, Nesbitt Blaisdell, Tessa Auberjonois, Colin Lane, Michael P. Toner, Barbara Winters-Pinto and David Bardeen.
For tickets and information on The Cripple of Inishmaan at the Wilma Theatre in Philadelphia, call (215) 546-STAGE. Concluding Wilma Theatre's 1998-99 season will be Tennessee Williams' Orpheus Descending (May 12-June 20), staged by co-artistic director Blanka Zizka.
-- By David Lefkowitz