How it’s New York: It’s playing at the Cort Theater in New York
How it’s Irish: Martin McDonagh is an Irish playwright and it is set in Ireland, and features a mostly Irish cast.
After a successful run on the west end, Martin McDonagh’s “The Cripple of Inishmaan” is making a welcome debut on the Great White Way on April 20th with a limited run due to close on July 20th. The entire London cast including leading man Daniel Radcliffe recently arrived in New York City and made themselves available for interviews at Signal Theater. Directed by Michael Grandage and featuring a mostly Irish cast including Pat Shortt, Ingrid Craigie, Padraic Delaney, Sarah Green and Gillian Hanna, the production company is generously making 10,000 $27 tickets available.
The play is a tragi-comedy, and similar to McDonagh’s other work, is deeply dark and hard hitting, while all the while making you laugh at the human condition.
Radcliffe is a petite young man with chiseled features and is a lovely, energetic and generous interviewee. I asked him if he chose this role because of the physical changes he would have to enact, and a continuation of his distancing from his Harry Potter character, but he said that the mental and internal changes required for the role were much more of a draw to him[pullquote] asked him if he chose this role because of the physical changes he would have to enact, and a continuation of his distancing from his Harry Potter character, but he said that the mental and internal changes required for the role were much more of a draw to him.[/pullquote] He explained that the character’s strong self awareness and self belief, in spite of an entire community’s inability to see him in any positive light, were the traits he needed to work on predominantly, and added that in order to mentally prepare for the role, he drew on a friend of his who uses a wheelchair, and who is constantly thought of as something less that he really is.
With a father from Banbridge, Co-Down, I asked if he was a regular visitor to Ireland growing up and even though he did visit, and has an aunt and extended family still living there, he is not one to jump on the Irish ancestors bandwagon that so many do he said, but instead considers himself a mutt of Irish, English and Jewish cultures (his mother is Jewish and he was born and raised in the UK). Though he did admit that his last two girlfriends were Irish, and
he agreed with this Irish woman, that he was a very lucky young man to have been chosen not once, but twice, by Irish women.
This is Pat Shortt’s second McDonagh play, having previously performed in a Druid theater company production of “The Lonesome West”. Druid’s Artistic Director, Gary Hynes, was a fan of Shortt’s show with fellow comic, Jon Kenny, “D’unbelievables”, which toured Ireland in the early 90’s. She recognised his depth and range and asked him to play a role in “The Lonesome West.” In Ireland he is known as a comedian or comic actor, while in the rest of the world he is known as an actor. In Ireland also, he is a big star. Both in London and here, while playing alongside the young Mr. Radcliffe, he easily slips underneath the media’s radar – for now at least – he is a very talented man, with a wide range. Lenny Abraham’s “Garage” was the big breakthrough for him, earning him an Irish TV and film award, as well garnering international attention including an award at Cannes.
Shortt is delighted to be in a Broadway show and is enjoying the luxuries (coffee machines!) and feels like he is living the dream. He drew a comparison to his early performing days rehearsing in old churches in Limerick where he joked that he would have to wear two coats and three scarves to keep from freezing. He began running into the McDonagh brothers at events and parties many years ago, and it sounded like they became fast friends and regular partying buddies.
Having seen the play staged in a pub in Galway during the Arts Festival a few years ago, I am looking forward to seeing this Broadway production with its cast of big names.