What do you get when you have a cripple, a fiery redhead, a goose, a cat, a vendetta, a town gossip and a lady that talks to rocks? You get the pure genius of Martin McDonagh’s play The Cripple of Inishmaan. The verbal jousting and cattle prodding of insults are continuous, yet this play shows that the human spirit is fragile.
The Cripple of Inishmaanis set in a very sleepy little island off the coast of Ireland. The biggest news is what happened between the goose and the cat or that cripple Billy was watching cows. So when there is news of a Hollywood movie casting on the mainland the whole town is a buzz.
This very seemingly very small town has a very diverse and lush group of characters from the “Aunts” Eileen and Kate Osbourne (Gillian Hanna and Ingrid Craigie); to a very loud-mouthed Helen MacCormack (Sarah Greene) who’s moxie is so audacious and captivating. Then there’s the town gossip that happens to be a man, Johnnypateenmike (Pat Shortt,), who barters gossip for food. His spread of gossip is deplorable but he’s so entertaining that you just want to listen to him. Daniel Radcliffe is playing the complete opposite of the Wizard in Harry Potter. Here as Billy, or as the others call him, Cripple Billy he makes you feels sorry for him and root for him simultaneously. He’s 17, orphaned since infancy and he’s never been kissed.
His Aunts ruminate over the fact that he’ll never have a normal life and you realize that maybe in a big city he would have more opportunities, but definitely not here. He’s labeled as the cripple and that’s pretty much how everyone sees him. They don’t see what an abundant mind and strong will he has, until he leaves to go audition for the movie. He disappears for quite sometime, only to return with a story of going to Hollywood.
Mr. McDonagh creates such deep and lush characters that are in stark contrast to the very bland, dank atmosphere in which they live. Unlike The Pillowman, which I absolutely loved, this is not violent; it’s just disturbingly sad that humans treat each other in this way. The verbal jousting back-and-forth is just pure entertainment. Behind the wit and candor is the rawness that is the human spirit.
The Cort Theatre • 138 West 48th St.