COURTESY THE ACTORS OHANA
Padriac (Shane Thomas) and Mairead (Tabitha Jade) find themselves at a bit of a standoff in the darkly comic "The Lieutenant of Inishmore."
Blood and guts
Rough language and gory scenes are necessary in a dark satire about Irish terrorists
Padraic is torturing a drug dealer when he gets a troubling telephone call from his father back home in Inishmore, a small village in rural Ireland. It seems that Padraic's beloved black cat, Wee Thomas, had been "doing poorly," something involving worms, perhaps, but appears to be doing better.
'The Lieutenant of Inishmore'
Presented by the Actors Ohana:
» On stage: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday through June 30
» Place: Academy of Film and Television, 1174-A Waimanu St., Kakaako
» Tickets: $13 to $15
» Call: 550-8457 or visit honoluluboxoffice.com
Actually, Wee Thomas is dead, found battered and all but decapitated. His father plans to make several calls to Padraic before he finally breaks the news that Wee Thomas has had a "sudden relapse" and is dead.
Little does Padraic's father suspect that Padraic intends to return home immediately to personally nurse Wee Thomas back to health.
The drug dealer, lying on the floor with two toenails gouged out, empathizes with his tormentor's plight -- it seems that he owns a cat, too -- and suggests ways that Padraic can trick Wee Thomas into swallowing his medication. Padraic thanks the drug dealer, releases him and makes sure he has cab fare to the nearest hospital!
This is the twisted and darkly humorous world of "The Lieutenant of Inishmore," the debut production of the Actors Ohana. Playwright Martin McDonagh's comic indictment of terrorism in modern Ireland is somewhat more mainstream in terms of themes and subplots than "The Pillowman," an earlier McDonagh play presented by the Lizard Loft last summer. No children are tortured or killed in "Inishmore," but there is a lot more blood and gore.
Padraic, described as "(crazy) enough for seven people," rushes home and isn't fooled a moment by an orange cat that's been daubed with black shoe polish. All that remains for him to do is kill his father, Donny, for failing to keep Wee Thomas safe, and also kill another villager, a dim-witted teenager named Davey, who initially confessed to killing Wee Thomas but has since recanted.
Blade Rogers (Davey) and Buck Ashford (Donny) get the action off to a strong start as hapless victims of circumstance trying desperately to deflect Padraic's wrath. Shane Thomas (Padraic) dominates thereafter with a fascinating, albeit chilling, portrayal of the psychopathic cat lover.
Tabitha Jade (Mairead) adds a seductive feminine presence as Davey's psychopathic sister, a would-be member of Padraic's Irish Liberation Army cell, whose contribution to the cause of "Ireland for the Irish" is blinding cattle with a BB gun.
Playwright McDonagh's minimalist antiterrorism message percolates from time to time through the bloodletting and realistically coarse dialogue. The ILA is a splinter group that considers the Irish Republican Army too moderate, but Padraic wonders if the ILA is also too conservative and too concerned about killing innocent people to drive the English and the Protestants out.
Padraic acknowledges matter-of-factly that there's a lot less risk involved in attacking civilians than in attacking English soldiers, especially when ILA bomb-makers can't be counted on to make dependable explosives.
The dialogue snaps and crackles as various combinations of characters discuss "boy-preferrers," "mam-trampling," Davey's unfashionably long hair, and the moral issues involved in "cat-battering."
One character notes that "incidents like this turn tourists off on (coming to) Ireland," while another expresses the hope that Padraic can wage his campaign to liberate Ulster without "blowing up kids."
Curiosity seekers don't have to worry about being splattered with stage blood, but enough of it ends up on the stage in Act II for Rogers to do a nifty slide across the set when he comes out for his curtain call.