Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Pillowman - ACT

A not-so-classic case of the classic "who dun it?" Fairy tales gone to the extreme in violence and gruesomeness come true in a totalitarian dictatorship police state and end in the interrogation of the writer and his mentally disabled brother. The question remains: who acted out the stories of this writer and why?

A prison cell can be a hard to create in a theater-in-the-round setting. However, for set designer Matthew Smucker it was a simple task of extraordinary skill. The retracting concrete detention cell and the hidden set in the ceiling are feats of incredible engineering magnificence. Additionally, the original score by Adam Stern and the sound designs of Dominic CodyKramers create the feeling of soul-gripping suspense and reality in this surreal journey from the mind of writer Martin McDonagh.

Matthew Floyd Miller's portrayal of Katurian - the struggling writer of gruesome child-murder stories with the disabled brother Michal - played by Shawn Telford - is something to be savored for days after seeing the performance. Telford's work of playing a somewhat mentally disabled man was impressive at many times but inconsistently so. The shining stars of this production, though, are Denis Arndt as Detective Tupolski and R. Hamilton Wright as Detective Ariel. Arndt's flawless acting is absolutely unbelievable and Wright's dramatic skills of bringing forth fear not only in his torture victim but the audience itself is undeniable.

"The Pillowman" as directed by Kurt Beattie is an astounding show that brings the audience to the bare intersection where disturbing horror meet utter comedy and does it wonderfully.

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