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4.5 out of 5 stars28
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 26 January 2004
A storyteller is pulled in by police for investigation into a number of child murders. The author's stories feature brutal, harrowing and explicy child murders, all told in a eerie fairytale manner, and the murderer has been copying these scenarios. So. inevitably the police suspect the author is the murder and set to break him into confessing.
This is a great play, and written with such energy that it really needs to be seen in performance. But if living in a theatrical vacuum like me , the second best option to to buy the text and 'play' the scenes out in your head.
The shocking conclusion is just as brutal and harrowing as some of the authors stories, and leaves you cast adrft in your thoughts. Cracking play.
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on 24 February 2004
This play deserves a resounding cheer for managing to approach a potentially controversial and difficult subject (the massacring of tiny infants) with startling ease and intelligence. The dialogue is second to none, and the play offers excellent two and three-handers for theatre students to use for rehearsal and showcase purposes. I was lucky enough to watch the play at it's recent run at the National Theatre, and the production lived up to the writing in winning style. I was lucky enough to get my copy signed by the entire cast, and I can't stop re-reading this truly brilliant play!
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on 31 March 2013
Maybe I just ruined it for you, but seeing how, like many great things it succeeds on multiple levels, at least three; I don't think I did. How something can be so incredible and fly under my radar for so long is one of the things that would keep me up at night if anything could. The "In Bruges" writer/director gives large doses of the only two qualities I want: wit and profundity. The dialogue is superb, but even it takes a back seat to the overall depth and pure story that unfolds. I abhor gruesome things, but unlike a young B.E. Ellis a young M.M. spins the grotesqueness to achieve something more than just thoughtfulness about the pure shock of it.

I jumped on this because Adam on Filmspotting said it was amazing, so I owe him yet again. Please tell me something that reaches the heights (wrong word) of The Pillowman with anything close to the same economy and I'll read it immediately. I'm almost glad I read this instead of seeing the play because I had time to stop and laugh out loud, and some remove from the intensity. NOTE: I read this in two sittings, 1/3 first and then the rest the next night; I assume this had a positive effect and ensured substantial immersion.
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on 20 March 2010
The Pillowman
For some reason, i've only just discovered Martin McDonagh's work. I enjoyed his films, but the written stuff i've read - 'The Pillowman', 'The Beauty Queen of Leenane' and 'The Lonesome West' were terrific! Unfortunately, i've not seen them performed and imagine - particularly the Irish plays - that they would require actors with exceptional verbal rhythm skills to do the writing justice. I didn't feel they quite had it in the films.
I think in 'The Pillowman', McDonagh sets out his stall for the other plays, as it were: a deceptively non gratuitous, naive violence and humour that satirizes the glamour of pain. However, unlike many plays, this is a joy to read solely for literary purposes. There are so many short - albeit brutal in the extreme - 'fairy tales' that are included in a simple narrative: the author is interrogated and tortured by police in an unnamed country. Highly recommended!
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on 26 June 2012
Martin McDonagh's "The Pillowman" may not seem as thought out as his 'Irish' plays but it's incredibly enjoyable - either in production or on the page. You often get a sense reading it, that you could (if you wanted to, and had the collected works of Pinter and Beckett, and a DVD of Czech absurd theatre) write this yourself. Overall, it doesn't seem inspired. But there are inspired moments - little touches that McDonagh has probably been storing in a notebook. Like the alternative story of Hamlin, where a man chops off a boys ears ( - thereby saving him from the Pied Piper).
The setting in a police interrogation room can be interpreted as fantastical or nondescript - it's particularly Kafka-esque. It's easy to take a lot of this play for granted, but at it's heart is a difficult relationship between two brothers.
If you liked the irreverent comedy and relationships of McDonagh's "In Bruges", you'll definitely enjoy this.
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on 17 May 2014
For all those 1st year students this book is a must read, a very twisted drama which many critics have portrayed as a sexual abuse towards kids but there's more to it, a story that tells a story and really opens your mind to the truth of the world.
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on 14 December 2015
I've not read a play like this before - both in content and style - and I was so impressed with the range, imagination and skill of Martin McDonagh as a writer. 'The Beauty Queen of Leenane' was a superb play and this one ranks right alongside as a feat of imaginative and scary brilliance.

The story follows a one Katurian Katurian (no this is not a typo) who has been arrested, along with his brother, on charges of murder. What unfolds is a series of stories, each more chilling and imaginative than the next as the main protagonist tries to explain what has happened. It is a play about crime and punishment, morality, society, justice and the good old nature of storytelling itself. A must read for theatre enthusiasts. And lovers of stories.
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on 22 April 2013
I say I love it but that's not really how you would describe it. Love it in the sense that it is well written and even though the subject matter is quite hard to swallow it was a fascinating read. Recommend second reading though as the first time around you get caught up in murders of the children by the storyteller (won't give anything away) so on second reading you start to question Katurian's motives for writing such horrific stories, somehow reminding me of Grimms fairy tales. A must read
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on 15 June 2013
I saw this at the theatre and loved it. It is simply superb, dark, funny and yet surprisingly playable characters for actors.
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on 5 July 2014
An integral play in modern and current drama. Incredible script and should be read by all.
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