Bloody Horror

Fifteen minutes after the curtain went up on Actors Theatre's The Lieutenant of Inishmore, two audience members ran for the exits. Ten minutes later, five others got up to go. A little while later, four more left — one of them nearly breaking my foot as she tromped out of our row of seats — and after that, I stopped counting. Would that I could have joined those lucky souls, all of whom fled even before any of the nearly nonstop gore of this disgusting spectacle commenced.

I hated Martin McDonagh's gross-out comedy not because I'm a cat lover and had to watch two very obviously fake felines murdered and then dragged around the stage for 90 minutes. Nor because the humor — all of it dependent upon laughing at stupid people — was so banal. Nor even because several very gifted people have unwisely wasted their talents on this monstrous fart of a play. I hated it for one very simple reason: It was too fucking gory. When I tell you that four people are murdered while we watch, I don't mean they're shot offstage and we hear the guns being fired. I mean we witness their execution-style murders right before our eyes; watch as the blood spurts from their heads; see them writhing and moaning in pain as they die. And then, as if this weren't enough, we're made to watch as their dead bodies are hacked to pieces by a couple of jibbering, hacksaw-wielding morons.

Violent murder. Bloodshed. Vivisection. Dead cats. I'm not laughing. And not just because watching horrible murders is not my idea of fun, but because there's absolutely no style here, no subtlety or humor or range of emotion. When they're not slaughtering one another, McDonagh's characters are hollering at the tops of their lungs. Somewhere in there, there's a story (crazed terrorist's beloved cat is killed; crazed terrorist goes berserk seeking revenge) and a lot of social commentary and what Actors Theatre is calling "black humor" but which is really just a Rambo movie played faster for laughs. Comedy is lying done amusingly, and there's truly nothing amusing about brutality and mean-spirited massacres.

And please, don't write to tell me you think I'm a pussy because I can't handle a little realistic bloodshed. This is not a little bloodshed, it's buckets of bloodshed, all of it the result of actors having been shot in the head with fake bullets, right before our eyes. I want to puke just having to write about this crapbag of a comedy, which I regret ever having put on my "plays to review" list in the first place. Shame on Actors Theatre — a company that nearly went belly up a couple of years ago — for investing pots of money on this unfunny gore fest, which will appeal only to people who are bored by what's lovely about the theater in the first place.

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Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela