Award winning play, The Pillowman, by Irish playwright, Martin McDonagh, opens later this month at Chapel Off Chapel, and it promises to be an unforgettable ride. Described as harrowing, disturbing, confrontational and challenging, the work was inspired, in part, by McDonagh’s examination of the darkness that lurks around the edges of fairy tales, and delves head first into a gruesome plot of child murders, abuse and torture. The work is, however, not without McDonagh’s trademark black comedy.
Says director Vincent Attanasio: “McDonagh explores the duality of our condition, and elucidates the necessity of storytelling as a tool of intellectual and emotional expression and exploration. Embracing the tragedy of life with a brilliantly wicked sense of humour.”
McDonagh has written a work that is synonymous with the best graphic horror fiction but, above and beyond the gruesomeness, is the story. Great storytelling is a trademark seen in all of McDonagh’s work, transporting the visual shocks and jaw dropping audaciousness into a seductive (but brutal) yarn that we want to be a part of.
For Attanasio, McDonagh’s writing is confounded upon tension and release, subverted expectations, honest intense subject matter, and unyielding, unforgiving complexity. “It’s sincerity, authenticity and constant subversion of expectations,” he says. “It had me in fits of laughter, anticipation and investigation!”
The Pillowman is the latest offering from emerging company, Patalog Collective – a company created for young artists, by young artists. Since 2016, the company has sought to give younger artists a platform to explore their passion for the arts at a professional level. Last year saw the company present their highly lauded launch play, MOJO, telling the story of the Rock ‘n’ Roll underbelly of the 1950’s in Soho.
Attanasio is a firm testament to the company’s mission statement, enjoying his directorial debut with this show.
“As this being my directorial debut, I have personally found it to be a profound learning experience diving into the abyss of complexity which lays at the bed of effective storytelling, and with a writer like McDonagh it has been absolutely thrilling,” he says.
Attanasio has also enjoyed working with the intimate cast and says: “The intimacy encourages and enhances our ability to explore with creativity, actively collaborating and connecting with each other. I love that we can create an open space where everyone feels comfortable to explore their ideas, their characters and their performance opportunities. All with the larger goal of giving the audience the most engaging and truthful experience of this play.”
As a director, Attanasio is interested by ideas of suffering and illusory superiority, he posits that there is something strangely comforting when bonding through tragedy, but, he admits, it’s good to keep ourselves in check. “A reminder that we are flawed and can be morally corruptible helps us to improve ourselves and encourages our compassion for others,” he says.
The Pillowman has had major success around the world and is a must see show. Says Attanasio: “The play is an intelligently visceral black comedy. Our production is obscure, raw and seriously funny.”
May 22 – 27