Just in time for Halloween:

'The Lieutenant of Inishmore' is bloody good fun

In the world of "The Lieutenant of Inishmore," violence has become the end as well as the means, and ideology is lost somewhere under the piles of corpses. Martin McDonagh's Grand Guignol of a farce, directed by ACT Artistic Director Kurt Beattie, takes violence up to and over the height of the absurd, but its characters are solidly grounded in the economic and political realities of a rural Ireland where joining the IRA may be one of the few job opportunities available for young people.
Padraic, played by Jeffrey Fracé with just the right combination of menace and vulnerability, has displayed sociopathic tendencies from an early age. He finds his true calling as a terrorist but his taste for violence is too much even for his Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) mates who are out to exterminate him in one of the play's subplots. Padraic maintains a sentimental attachment to his cat Wee Thomas whom he considers his only friend. Thomas' untimely death and the subsequent cover-up attempt by Padraic's father Donny (played with blarney-spouting menace by Sean G. Griffin) and mentally challenged neighbor Davey (MJ Sieber) sets Padraic on a quest for vengeance, a quest in which he is joined by Davey's sister Mairead (pitch perfect Elise Hunt), a tomboy IRA groupie who sports a deft hand with an air gun.
Most of the humor derives from the dimwitted characters' attempts at normalcy (consisting mostly of spouting ill-timed clichés) in a world where violence is so commonplace that dismembering corpses is handled with the same sang-froid as carving the Sunday roast (only it's much harder work), and Padraic advises the torture victim whose toenails he's just ripped out to seek a "tetanus jab." Squeamish theater-goers be warned, the graphic violence here includes shootings, torture, dismemberment and gallons of stage blood. McDonagh has been described as part John Synge ("Playboy of the Western World"), part Quentin Tarantino. And Tarantino definitely has the upper hand here.
Under Beattie's able direction, the American cast exudes an authoritative Irishness both in attitude and speech, with the possible exception of Sieber who starts out somewhat incomprehensible but finds his stride later. Kudos to the properties team (Marne Cohen, Ken Ewert and Thomas Verdos, under the leadership of Technical Director Steve Coulter) for the stunningly gruesome props. Scenic Designer Thomas Lynch's shabbily picturesque Irish cottage and the jolly Irish ballads of Brendan Patrick Hogan's sound design add just the right touch of irony to the mayhem.
As the theater emptied, a grinning young man commented that he needed to pay for his date's dry cleaning -they had sat in the front row. She looked somewhat less amused. At least her dress was the right color, a lovely deep red.
"The Lieutenant of Inishmore" plays through Nov. 15 in ACT Theatre's Falls Theatre at 700 Union St. Visit www.acttheatre.org for tickets and more information.[[In-content Ad]]