The first time I saw Daniel Radcliffe on stage, in Equus, I was unexpectedly impressed and he reignited my love of theatre (I have him to blame for all this, sort of). And in Martin McDonagh's Cripple of Inishmaan where he takes the title role he has impressed me all over again.
He is the centre of the story in spirit if not always as a physical presence. Set in 1934 on the little Irish island of Inishmaan, Billy (Radcliffe) is the butt of many of the locals jokes - the fact that he likes to look at cows doesn't help. His physical deformity prevents him from working so he spends most of his time reading and day dreaming but when news arrives of a film crew on a neighbouring island he sees a diversion, a means to a different life.
McDonagh's humour in the Cripple of Inishmaan is cruel and biting but what elevates this above being just a black comedy is an underlying feeling that tragedy is never far away. This is a play that toys with your emotions you'll laugh, often guiltily, one minute and want to cry the next.
There isn't a character that doesn't burst off the stage with personality and wit and it must be a joy for the actors. From Pat Shortt's Johnnypateenmike, who treats news and gossip like hostages only to be released in return for food, to the fiery Sarah (Helen McCormick) who metes out her own egg-missile revenge on the priest with wandering hands.
Radcliffe has said in interviews that he seeks out varied and interesting roles and this is the most transformed I've seen him. But while his face is on the poster this is really an ensemble piece with his fellow actors collectively setting the performance bar high.
Nonetheless, at the curtain call he deserved to look chuffed at the audiences enthusiastic response, sporting a big grin. And I was grinning too. The Cripple of Inishmaan is a tragi-comedy of the highest order. It is the third play in Michael Grandage's season at the Noel Coward Theatre and the best so far. It runs until August 31 and this was a preview performance. And yes I will be seeing it again.
@Polyg has written her thoughts here.
Well this is going to be easy now because not only did Michael Grandage direct Mr W in the previous play in his season, Peter and Alice, but also my friend Henry Everett who was an understudy and got to perform one night as JM Barrie.
Recently seen:Chimerica, Almeida Theatre - See more at: http://theatre.revstan.com/2013/06/review-spamalot.html#sthash.mO4jy3EK.dpuf
ecently seen:Chimerica, Almeida Theatre - See more at: http://theatre.revstan.com/2013/06/review-spamalot.html#sthash.mO4jy3EK.dpuf