All that’s missing from Red Barn production is a pint of Guinness
Welcome to Inishmaan, a town that will feel as familiar, small and darkly humorous as Key West. Martin McDonough’s tony nominated play, “The Cripple of Inishmaan,” is now playing at the Red Barn Theater and brings the Irish version of a small town full of gossips, heartache, humor, and mischief to th stage. Directed by Carole MacCartee, the play exudes her love of Irish playwriting and brings the humor and passion of an isolated island full of characters right to Duval’s doorstep.
“The Cripple of Inishmaan,” written in 1934 by Martin McDonagh, is set around the character Cripple Billy (Arthur Crocker) who is raised by two doddering and doting aunties: Kate Osbourne (Peggy Montgomery) and Eileen Osbourne (Vanessa McCaffrey). Billy struggles to find his own way off the island into the world, leaving his moniker behind. An American movie is being filmed on the neighboring island of Inishmore, and the Inishmaan youth Helen McCormick (Aleister Eaves) and her brother, Bartley McCormick (Charlie Lawrence), also dream big of American things such as boys and candy. The town gossip Johnnypateenmike (Doug Shook) plays town crier for all the news and is the meddlesome go between the young and the old, wreaking havoc on truth and gossip. Billy eventually gets to America but like all dreams the reality is cruel and heads back to his beloved Ireland home still searching for the truth about his parents and the Irish girl of his dreams.
The characters are richly crass and unforgiving in their relationships with each other. Johnnypateenmike tries to kill his 90-year-old mother with an endless supply of booze. Conversely, Mammy O’Dougal (Robin Deck), Johnnypateenmike’s mother is the only one having a jolly good drunk time. Helen beats her brother and kills farm animals for extra cash, and Babbybobby Bennett (Ross Pipkin) — the “lovable, kind friend” carries a billy club and is prone to violence. Doctor McSharry (Tom Murtha) seems to be the only voice of reason that nobody will listen to. The original Irish language and accent seem to be the tenth character of the play — in true Irish form, nothing is “feking” off limits.
In the end, the people of Inishmaan make cruel jokes, laugh at each other’s nature but underneath care deeply about each other. Johnnypateenmike says the play’s quintessential ironic line, “Because in Ireland, people are more friendly.”
Carole MacCartee does a magnificent job of bringing the original play to life while all the actors convey the genuine feel of Ireland.
The play will run Wednesdays through Saturdays, curtain at 8 p.m., through May 14. Call 305 296-9911 or visit redbarntheatre.com for tickets and information.
“The play’s similarities to Key West are too many to count.” — Carole MacCartee, director