Reviewed by Ceri Horner
Katurian is the author of a series of terrifying short stories, many of which resolve with the grisly and twisted death of an innocent child. His stories are mostly unpublished and of little interest until children start dying in the same macabre fashion as described in his tales.
This play is a challenge for any amateur company. The subject matter is abhorrent, the characters complex and the comedy is blacker than black. The audience find themselves involuntarily laughing at the most appalling subject matter as the actors peel to the core of their characters slowly through a series of horrific tales.
To succeed, the Director has to find the right balance between the comedy and catastrophe– and the casting needs to be good, which fortunately it is.
Megan Dansie has assembled an exceptional cast who each bring a disturbing familiarity to Martin McDonagh’s cleverly crafted and dysfunctional characters. Dansie’s direction is excellent. It would be easy to overplay the violence and the emotions but this production follows a perfectly sinister and disturbing path, leading the audience as the author no doubt intended to be amused and repulsed at the same time.
Bart Csorba gives an intelligent and intense performance as Katurian, who is accused by police of the most despicable of crimes.
Gary George as the policeman Ariel is brilliantly menacing and Tony Busch is disturbingly likeable as the sadistic detective.
Robert Bell as the intellectually disabled Michal and Kate Vanderhorst as the girl both give mature performances that belie their lack of experience. Lucy Sutherland and Steve Marvanek complete the excellent casting in the roles of Mother and Father.
The set is appropriately creepy and stark. Michael Kumnick has created a cold and raw environment with sparse furniture against a dirty and bloodied concrete backdrop.
The Pillowman is an excellent story. It may be a while before it is told this well again.