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Orange Theatre Company  released its second play of the season on Saturday 26th of May. This time they’ve chosen Martin Mcdonagh’s dark comedy, The Pillowman. A great choice, everyone agreed on that! Who doesn’t like a good dark comedy which gives you goosebumps while you laugh? And of course I went to see it at the Westergastheater, I couldn’t have missed it.

The action takes place in an unspecified country with a totalitarian regime, in a police interrogation room. A writer is being investigated for a set of gruesome crimes replicating his dark stories. This writer, Katurian, faced with immediate execution if found guilty, endures the brutal interrogation and seems eager to cooperate, considering himself innocent of all charges. He is obedient and sheepish, but that changes when it comes to his writing – he becomes arrogant and defending – or to his brother, Michal – he becomes enraged when finds out that police have him locked in a cell. Admirably played by two women (Gina Lamprell and Lydia Medeiros), instead of two men as in the original play, the police are cynical, brutal, and not shy to use torture. There are twists and turns as the truth is gradually revealed during the performance.

The best part of the show was the central conversation piece between the two brothers. It’s touching and striking. Alex Baggett and Eli Thorne make an excellent team as siblings. I can’t decide which one is my favourite character: Katurian, the tormented writer whose most valuable things in life (and after life) are his unpublished stories, or Michal, a brain-damaged adult with the mind of a child (remarkably interpreted by Eli).

Although the setting is this mystery puzzle, the actual subject of the play is storytelling. Many stories are told during the play, in different ways. Each character is a storyteller in its own way, and it was beautiful to discover that. Difficult questions emerge: Is a writer guilty of a crime committed by someone who reads his horror story? Is artistic creation the most important thing we leave behind? Since I am a writer myself, these questions hold special meaning for me and I thought about them before, when I discovered that people can’t easily differentiate between real and fantasy in one’s work. More than once people attributed the thoughts of the characters I created to myself. But let’s not digress from our subject. These questions and a few others, darker ones, will remain unanswered, they will come home with you to haunt you for a while. Hopefully, you won’t take all of this too seriously. Don’t spend too much time ruminating over it, treat it a bit more light-heartedly, as Katurian is treating his execution and think about it as “just a story” which “doesn’t mean anything”. Because that’s what they all are, in the end.

We also got over the very serious subjects quickly at the reception after the show, when we delighted ourselves with a few glasses of bubbly and a lot of laughing:

The Pillowman - Entrance

The Pillowman - Q&A session

The Pillowman - part of the crew

The Pillowman - Reception 01

The Pillowman - Reception 02

The Pillowman - Reception 03

The Pillowman - Reception 04

The Pillowman - Reception 05

The Pillowman - Reception 06

 

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