Opening weekend happened for The Lieutenant of Inishmore and as one of its directors I'm very happy with the results of what my lovely co-director and I were able to create with our amazing cast and crew. I was also very excited with the turnout for opening weekend which was comprised of newcomers, longtime theatre subscribers, and colleagues with whom I have done many shows. Since Daena Sisk and I were so passionate about doing this edgy dark comedy I was also curious about what audience members would have to say about the experience.
Bear with me because I intend to use the word "curious" a lot in this blog. On the one hand, as a director, I want the art that I am creating to speak for itself as much as possible. On the other hand, as the Director of Marketing for Chicago Street Theatre, I have to drum up interest in the play by trying to provide information about the piece. Wearing these two hats as both a director and as a promotions guy can be a little tricky at times. You don't want to give away too much, but it is necessary to write about aspects of the plot to entice people to come and experience the play.
Early on, we determined to describe the play as a "a violently funny tale about a man's love for his cat." In creating our tagline and giving a little bit of the plot, the label that people gave our show was: "The Cat Killing Play." This is somewhat unfair (although still true) because a cat (or maybe two) dying is only one thing that happens in the show.
The director in me wants to scream out because so much more takes place in the production than this one or possibly two incidents. The beauty of McDonagh is that he, like we as directors, wants you to experience this comedy for what it is rather than having someone else explain what it is. He wants you to leave the theatre curious about what you just saw and why it had to happen that way.
One of my friends and theatre colleagues wrote a post on Facebook after seeing the show that said, "Who knew that a show about cats and Northern Irish terrorists could be so entertaining?"
Another longtime patron told me, "Stop apologizing for this show, it's hilarious! It's a bonus to what you guys offer to us each season and we love you for it."
As my Co-director so eloquently put in our director's note, "We want you to laugh. We really do. We want you to be uncomfortable while you're laughing. This is what watching a Martin McDonagh play is often about: laughing in the face of gore and political incorrectness."
Of course you could also leave curious about what McDonagh is really writing about. Is it a commentary of the stupidity and brutishness of Irish terrorism? Is it an absurd look at the early 90's extremism in the entertainment business and the media? Is it a vehicle for these wonderfully drawn characters to inhabit? Is it a satire on society's ambivalence about violence and how it is only our pets that matter to us? Well yes. It could be all of those things or it could be none of them.
McDonagh gives us no answers. He wants us to experience this curious little story he has created and enjoy it. The director and Marketing Director hopes you'll do the same.-Eric Brant, Director and Member