by Paula Citron
London-based Martin McDonagh has written a terrifying play in The Pillowman. The psychoterrors of fairytales and the horrific power of words are explored through the plot convention of how abused children cope with life. Ground-breaking child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim would have been in bliss over McDonagh’s riveting creation.
The setting is an unnamed totalitarian country. An amateur writer who works in an abattoir, played by Shaun Smyth, has been arrested because his short stories resemble a series of child murders. Figuring into the mix are his mentally challenged brother played by Paul Fauteux and the two investigating policemen – Richard McMillan and Oliver Becker. Acting doesn’t get better than this quartet and everyone is a storyteller.
Director David Ferry keep things moving at a furious pace while designer Glenn Davidson’s gloomy interrogation room is positively chilling. This clever play is not for the faint of heart, but is a theatrical experience to remember.
The Pillowman continues until Oct. 27.
From the Berkeley Street Theatre, I’m Paula Citron, arts reviewer for CLASSICAL 96.3 FM.