There are hardly words to describe how much I adored the Druid Theatre‘s production of The Cripple of Inishmaan, part of Spoleto Festival USA. Performed in the historic Dock Street Theatre on Church Street, the setting felt oh so right for the play set in 1934, on a tiny island of the coast of Ireland.
The opening scene takes us into the Aunties Kate and Eileen‘s shop, where they spend their time worrying over Billy Claven, the cripple boy they took in after his parents drowned when he was just a baby. All your characters are there, the gossipy old man JohnnyPateenMike, the ridiculous siblings Bartley and his prone-to-violence sister Slippy Helen, the doctor, the surly widower BabbyBobby, who lost his wife Ann to TB…and of course, Cripple Billy.
Their acting was perfect. Spot on and hysterical. It wasn’t quite as ‘dark’ as some of the pre-press had made it out to be, but still had plenty of questionable moments, clergy sexuality jokes, Hitler references, so on and so forth. Slippy Helen was particularly barbed, with her lack of filter and flapping gums.
BabbyBobby was the unlikely good guy…well unlikely soft-hearted guy. Billy does con him pretty badly, playing on his past hurts for sympathy, and BabbyBobby’s retribution is severe. The Aunties are hysterical, with wry observations on their neighbors and the human race in general.
Perhaps one of the best moments was old Mammy O’Dougal, JohnnyPateenMike’s drunkard mother, whom he’s been trying to kill with the drink for 65 years or so…she is priceless. However nasty they are towards one another, they all possess the Irish pride…”Ireland can’t be that bad a place if Hollywood is coming here to do their filmin’!”
The requisite morals are there: cherishing what you have rather than longing for the greener grass, looking beyond the surface to the person underneath, the unwitting truth in lies…but any way you put The Cripple of Inishmaan, it’s a wonderful production full of fekkin’ great humor and terrific acting.
There are plenty of performances left, but get your tickets now! www.spoletousa.org, call 843.579.3100 or visit the box office in the Gaillard Auditorium at 77 Calhoun Street.