The Cripple of Inishmaan
The Cripple Of Inishmaan
Reviewed by Ezra Bitterman
Antaeus Theatre Company
Through March 11th
[Note: This review is part of the Z. Clark Branson/Stage Raw Equity and Inclusion Initiative for Young Journalists. Stage Raw staff are mentoring the young authors, as they build their professional resumes as arts journalists.]
Billy (Ian Littleworth) is late again. His aunts Kate (Rhonda Aldrich) and Eileen (Julia Fletcher) are worried. It seems they are always worried about Billy.
Billy is the town “cripple” on the small Irish island of Inishmaan, in 1934, and is often ridiculed for his poor stature. His caretaker-aunts’ simple lives consist mainly of worrying about Billy and getting news from the local gossip and would-be newspaperman, Johnnypateenmike (Stephen Caffrey). Billy finally arrives, to the great relief of his aunts. He was out staring at cows — something he is known for.
Billy has interests, and drive, to do something bigger than be just the freak of a small town on one of the Aran Islands. This opportunity for Billy comes when a movie production company from America mysteriously shows up on a neighboring island, looking to make a film and even bring a lucky someone back to Hollywood.
Antaeus Theatre Company presents a witty production of Martin McDonagh’s 1996 play, The Cripple of Inishmaan.
Of the multiple acting companies performing the play for Antaeus, the Yalla-Mallows ensemble is terrific, hilariously portraying rural life in Ireland. In particular Caffrey as curmudgeon Johnnypateenmike — trying to kill his mom with booze. Caffrey does wonders with connecting many scenes together to propel the story forward. He’s a constant, comic presence, even with the story centered around Billy. Johnnypateenmike spouts false news, resulting in trouble the other characters have to fix. Meanwhile, Bartley (Sebastian Fernandez), stupid and oppressed with candy, foils his mean and often cruel sister Helen (Emily Goss). These two provide animated commentary throughout the show, and always find a way to torment Billy, who is the play’s one non-comic character. Billy delivers beautifully written monologues detailing the sadness and his woeful situation in life, and Littleworth’s performance is brilliant.
His meditative face and hunched stature, along with a despondent air, has a wounded Richard III feel that is unshakeable.
Director Steve Robman really gives the story to the actors, utilizing simple sets and very few props.
The Cripple of Inishmaanis a very funny play with dark undertones., I will say the story grows confusing at the end, with an illogical plot point, yet nothing to undermine the larger blend of comedy with pathos.
Kiki and David Gindler Performing Arts Center, 110 E. Broadway, Glendale; Fri., Sat., & Mon., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; through Mar. 11. (818) 506-1983 or www.Antaeus.org. Running time: two hours and 15 minutes, with a 10-minute intermission.