The Pillowman Goes to Sleep On Broadway Sept. 18

By Andrew Gans
and Robert Simonson
September 18, 2005

The Pillowman, Martin McDonagh's hit London play, which won a bushelful of good reviews on Broadway, ends its New York run Sept. 18. The dark comedy will have played 23 previews and 208 regular performances.

The Broadway run, which began March 21 and officially opened April 10, ends with the conclusion of the current company's contracts. The show recouped its entire $2.2 million investment the week ending Aug. 21, and will close at a profit.

The Pillowman, starring Billy Crudup, Jeff Goldblum, Zeljko Ivanek and Michael Stuhlbarg and directed by John Crowley, was produced by Boyett Ostar and Robert Fox, Arielle Tepper, Stephanie McClelland, Debra Black, Dede Harris, Morton Swinsky, Roy Furman/Jon Avnet in association with Joyce Schweickert.

The show, which peppers its portrait of a bleak totalitarian society with the grimmest of Grimm-like fairy tales, marked a stylistic change of pace for playwright McDonagh, known for gritty, often violent, but largely naturalistic localized dramas like The Beauty Queen of Leenane, A Skull in Connemara and The Lonesome West.

Set in an unnamed, vaguely Eastern European totalitarian state, The Pillowman first strikes Pinteresque and then expressionistic and Grand Guignol notes.

The action opens on a spare interrogation room, where writer Katurian Katurian (he has the same first and last name) is sitting blindfolded. Soon, Katurian (Crudup) is being interrogated by two corrupt and comically cruel detectives, Tupolski (Goldblum) and Ariel (Ivanek), about a series of child murders which resemble episodes in the author's numerous, unpublished, and disturbing fairy tale-like short stories. Also under arrest is Katurian's half witted brother Michel (Stuhlbarg), who grew up on his sibling's stories and, it emerges, indirectly inspired them.

The script is replete with macabre tales, some described by the cops, some told by Katurian to his brother, some related directly to the audience and enacted by a supporting cast that includes Ted Koch, Virginia Louise Smith, Jesse Shane Bronstein and Madeleine Martin.

The design team for The Pillowman comprised Scott Pask (scenic and costume design), Hugh Vanstone (lighting design) and Paul Arditti (sound design). The play featured music by Paddy Cunneen.

The Booth Theatre is located in Manhattan at 222 West 45th Street.