Theater Review: “The Pillowman”
Martin McDonagh’s “The Pillowman” is currently being performed at Theatre Gym at the Virginia Rep Center by the relatively new but already quite impressive Cadence Theatre Company in partnership with Virginia Repertory Theatre.
One would most certainly place “The Pillowman” in the dark comedy genre. Featuring comedic moments that are farcical in the vein of a Christopher Durang one-act combined with the wit of Tom Stoppard, “The Pillowman” deals with the heavy subject matter of child abuse and murder. A writer named Katurian Katurian (Jonathan Conyers) is trapped in an interrogation room being questioned by two pretty aggressive cops; they aren’t afraid of using unconventional methods to get what they want out of a suspect.
Children in town are being murdered in accordance with a few of Katurian’s most gruesome stories and detectives Tupolski (David Bridgewater) and Ariel (Tony Foley) want to know what involvement Katurian may have had in the recent killings. Also being questioned is Katurian’s mentally handicapped brother Michal (David Janeski) whom Katurian has raised since they were young boys.
Directed by Steve Perigard, this is some of the most superb acting I have seen. Conyers and Janeski shine onstage and every moment of their interaction is genuine and captivating. I could not take my eyes off either of them.
Conyers definitely has what it takes to carry a production and Janeski truly transforms into and commits to his character. Bridgewater and Foley are intense and believable as a token “good cop/bad cop” duo as they take out their frustrations within their personal and working lives on poor Katurian.
McDonagh’s intelligent script does an amazing job of character development, giving depth and insight to all their actions.
The dynamic and creative set designed by David Powers and Brian Barker is amazing, featuring grand moving panels to change rooms and settings; it was impressive to see what could be accomplished on the relatively small stage of the Theatre Gym.
For Cadence’s performance of “Pillowman” Steve Perigard chose to enact Katurian’s stories on-stage using a Man and a Woman (Matt Hackman and Emma Louise Mason) and two small children (Eric Brenner and Sophie Shannon) with Katurian narrating. The play has been preformed in this manner in the past and I think it adds a lot visually and artistically to the production. This play is a long one so be prepared to settle in for at least three hours, but I tell you it’s worth it.
“The Pillowman” is playing through November 10. For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit www.va-rep.org
Jen Maciulewicz is theatre critic for GAYRVA.com and is a Richmond local. Jen attended VCU and holds a B.S. in Anthropology. She has starred as Reno Sweeney in Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes" and attended VCU’s School of Music. Follow Jen on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jenlaumac.
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