Violence and laughter went hand in hand in the Leenane trilogy (which comprises The Beauty Queen of Leenane, A Skull in Connemara and The Lonesome West) and in The Cripple of Inishmaan—as when The Lonesome West's two brothers earnestly tried to kill each other, leaving audiences laughing heartily, albeit uneasily.
His new play, The Pillowman, opens at London’s National Theatre on Nov. 13, in the Cottesloe. Drawing inspiration from the nastiness behind many children’s tales (a subject also mined recently by the West End’s Shockheaded Peter), McDonagh depicts a writer in a totalitarian state who is interrogated about the horrific events in his short stories (such as fathers being given razor blade-filled apples to eat by their offspring), and, more frighteningly, their similarity to child murders that are occurring in the same town.
The writer is played by Jim Broadbent, riding high these days after his Oscar and Golden Globe awards for the movie “Iris.” The cast also includes James Daley, Adam Godley, Jennifer Higham, Nigel Lindsay, Victoria Pembroke, Mike Sherman and David Tennant. John Crowley directs, with designs by Scott Pask, lighting by Hugh Vanstone and sound by Paul Arditti.
McDonagh, who first rose to fame with The Cripple of Inishmaan at the National, returns to the RNT for the first time since then. He was Tony Award-nominated for best play two years running, for the Broadway transfers of The Beauty Queen Of Leenane (1998) and The Lonesome West (1999).
For ticket information call (0) 207 452 3000, or visit www.nationaltheatre.org.uk.