The Pillowman | Melbourne Theatre Company

The PillowmanLeft - L-R: Joel Edgerton, Kim Gyngell & Greg Stone. Cover - Joel Edgerton & Dan Wyllie. Photos - Jeff Busby

The Pillowman
, written by renowned Anglo-Irish playwright Martin McDonagh, is a brilliant, provoking and confronting play. This is a tragic/comic inspection of viciousness, the process of writing and the getting of inspiration, all set in the somehow twin worlds of a totalitarian dictatorship and of fairytales.

Story writer Katurian (Joel Edgerton) finds himself held in a police cell for reasons he is unaware of, all he does know though, is that it has something to do with the short stories he writes. These are short stories which feature an apparently disturbing theme, and just may be somehow linked to a series of brutal child murders. The writer and his brother Michal (Dan Wyllie) are interrogated by police (Kim Gyngell and Greg Stone).

The Pillowman is an MTC production performed at the Malthouse, and is directed by Simon Phillips. Within this production, performers, direction and writing are immensely enjoyable, hurtling the audience from one reality to the next, through an array of pleasurable and painful stimulation. The entire cast is outstanding, especially Kim Gyngell and Greg Stone, as the good and bad police officers, at least that’s what they say they are, but are they? Questions are raised and not all are answered, as the nature of reality is twisted into a knot. And it is hilarious too! It is the type of humour that is so dark it makes you feel a little wicked for laughing. 

The rhythm of the language and the dialogue itself are both marvelously clever, and are delivered by each performer almost faultlessly. Projections and sound are a little uninspired, but the set design is sharp, in particular, the veiled fairytale world contrasted with the harsh grey interrogation cell. I have to say it again though, simply adored the performers, including a bravura Dan Wyllie who deftly portrays innocent and wicked at the same time, and the writing never falls below outstanding, with frequent literary references used to enrich the content.

The Pillowman shatters the somewhat conventional line between a dark subject and comic delivery. It questions the veracity of fairytales and queries our capacity to be brutal and kind simultaneously, all this blended in to a superlative theatrical adventure. I thoroughly recommend this production, it is thought provoking, completely entertaining theatre.


Melbourne Theatre Company presents the Australian Premiere of
The Pillowman
By Martin McDonagh

Venue: Merlyn Theatre | The CUB Malthouse
Previews: from 19 May 2007
Dates: 24 May - 23 June 2007
Performance Schedule: Mon & Tue 6.30pm, Wed 1pm & 8pm, Thu & Fri 8pm, Sat 4pm & 8.30pm (19 May 2pm & 8pm)
Bookings: Ticketmaster 1300 136 166 or visit www.mtc.com.au

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