People may claim they would lay down their life for a pet, but how often would they kill for a cat?
This violent premise of Martin McDonagh’s "The Lieutenant of Inishmore," playing now through June 22 at Hyde Park Theatre and produced by Capital T Theatre, is inherently more than a little farcical: a murderous and sociopathic officer in the Irish Liberation Army (Jason Liebrecht) returns to his home on the desolate island of Inishmore to track down those responsible for the death of his cherished pet cat.
As one might guess, murder and mayhem ensue. And although Capital T’s production of the ludicrous script is absolutely top notch, the only meat to this play is in the body parts strewn about the stage.
But if a violent and comedic action flick on stage is the kind of thing you’d be into, then this show is a must see event. The cast is excellent, and director and scenic designer Mark Pickell’s meticulous realism creates some truly intense moments. For those of us that are a bit more squeamish about the sound of a spine being sawed in two, well, the production is interesting for how uncomfortable it’s willing to make us.
In the intimate space of Hyde Park Theatre, the physical (and emotional) demands of the production are intense. Our first introduction to the fierce Lieutenant is an interrogation scene in which he strings James (Robert Fisher) up by the ankles and threatens him with an unsanitary straight razor.
Jason Liebrecht delivers a compelling and rabid portrayal of the off-kilter officer, and Pickell’s excellent direction gives the show levels and pacing that keep the ferocity flowing smoothly without gushing out of steam. And the entire cast deserves a round of applause for successfully tackling the requisite Irish accents.
Lowell Bartholomee is great as the resigned father of a psychopath, and the crew of evil henchmen out for revenge (Joey Hood, Ryan Hamilton, and Aaron Crawford) are both believable and hilarious. And as the enthusiastically militant teenage love interest, Cassie Stewart is spot on.
While McDonagh’s early plays ("The Pillowman," "Beauty Queen of Leenane") engage with violence to create a thought-provoking moral ambiguity, "Lieutenant" seems more like a Tarantino-esque jubilee of gore.
But, again, Capital T manages to pull this off exceptionally well with believable gunshots, timely blood splatters and even dismembered actors remaining on stage through the second half.
"The Lieutenant of Inishmore" continues 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays through June 22 at Hyde Park Theatre, 511 W. 43rd St. $20-$30. www.capitalt.org