I had a great week at the theater: three shows, three winners. Granted, I’d already seen and liked two of the shows in question, but good is good, right?
Anyway, here’s the weekly teaser for my Wall Street Journal drama column, which leads off with a slightly qualified but nonetheless definite rave for The Pillowman:
The National Theatre of Great Britain has shipped yet another show to Broadway, and unlike “Democracy,” this one’s a winner, if a weird one. Martin McDonagh’s “The Pillowman,” now playing at the Booth Theatre, is a loose-jointed, slightly rambling shocker by the author of “The Beauty Queen of Leenane,” performed by a cast of American actors led by Billy Crudup and Jeff Goldblum. I had my doubts at intermission, but by evening’s end I’d succumbed–though perhaps that isn’t quite the right word–to Mr. McDonagh’s tale of a writer whose darkest fantasies come to messy life….
It’s not entirely clear what Mr. McDonagh is up to in “The Pillowman.” Is it a postmodern metanarrative? A black comedy about life under Stalinism? A parable of the unintended consequences of the writer’s art? Beats me, and in the first act the unclarity is extreme enough at times to suggest a switchboard whose plugs are stuck in the wrong holes. Not so the second, more closely woven part, which builds to a predictable but still horrifying climax that hits you like…well, like a bullet in the back of the head.
As for John Patrick Shanley’s splendid Doubt, which has transferred to Broadway and won a Pulitzer Prize, I saw pretty much what I expected to see:
I’m pleased to say that it looks good, John Lee Beatty’s spare, suggestive set having been discreetly altered to fill the much higher opening of the proscenium stage of the Walter Kerr Theatre.