The Lieutenant of Inishmore
Comedy about republicanism, terrorists and dead cats follows predictable arc
A comedy about republicanism, terrorists, and dead cats that’s more fun than it sounds, The Lieutenant of Inishmore displays Martin McDonagh’s talent for harnessing the comic potential in those peculiarly Irish turns of phrase. Many of the play’s best moments are in the rapid exchanges of petty bickering that break out at least as often as the gunfire amongst the rather clichéd cast of small-town layabouts, splinter groups and splinter groups who’ve splintered from the splinter groups.
But the story – about crazed one-man terrorist faction ‘Mad Padraig’ brought rushing home from his mixed-up mission by the news that his cat is poorly – follows a predictable arc. Liam Brennan, Mark Prendergast and Jamie Quinn make a great comic trio of rival would-be freedom fighters, constantly waylaid by bickering about ‘the principle of the thing’, but at this early stage in the run the production is let down by some roughness around the edges when it comes to timing, physical interactions and set changes. And while the short scenes and snappy dialogue ensure it rarely drags, the ending could helpfully have come a lot sooner and with less labouring of the point that much nationalism and fighting is as nonsensical as fighting over spilt cat brains.
Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, until Sat 12 May