Dark comedies have the ability to delight, entertain and disturb, and none more so than The Pillowman. Author Katurian is interviewed by two detectives in regards to a string of child murders which appear to mirror those of his stories. Written by Martin McDonagh, the play questions the relationship between truth and fiction, drawing on inspiration from Grimm’s fairy tales, Kafka and Antonin Artaud.
Directors Ben Newman and James Gilson subvert the masculinity of the play in their cast made up almost entirely of women. Gilson explained that “in casting, we made the decision that for all of the roles we would cast gender blind… they’re all women in ours because they were just better in audition.” An audience could perhaps take something not only from the quality of performance, but from the subverted gender norms and the themes of brutality, unusually associated with women.
Newman and Gilson are particularly confident in the play’s ability to communicate with their audience. Newman explains: “I wouldn’t say that there is necessarily a prescribed message, but it asks lots of questions.” Expanding he explains that “there are some really funny moments and there are some really sad moments”. If you enjoy theatre that makes you feel, experiencing emotion alongside the characters, The Pillowman promises to deliver.
The Pillowman is particularly impressive in the commitment of its cast and production team. Due to be performed in week three of the semester, the team is experiencing major time pressure. Producer Mia Young explains that “it just requires commitment from everyone… it is very intense, but it works.”
A rollercoaster of enjoyment, the show is “one of those pieces of theatre where if [you] come and see it [you] will take something away from it, whether it’s that [you] found it really funny, or found it cathartic… there’s so much in it that you can take away from it.”
The Pillowman is on at the Drama Studio from 26 Wednesday to 29 Saturday February, with doors opening at 7pm.