The Lonesome West (Methuen Modern Plays) (Modern Classics) For some reason, i've not been aware of Martin McDonagh's work until recently. I then watched 'six shooter' and 'in bruges'. I liked them both, but having subsequently read 'the pillowman' and 'the lonesome west', i feel his skill as a playwright is phenomenal. His writing is so physical and cruel, yet funny and thought provoking. In 'the pillowman' he sets out his stall, as it were, by showing us the awful truth of gratuitous violence, whilst at the same time satisfying our hunger for it! It's Brecht's 'verfremdungseffekt' that leaves us with a strange feeling of guilt and euphoria. 'the lonesome west' is an anarchic view of rural Ireland and it's folk. Grotesque realism is played out in a scenario akin to the best 'tom and jerry' cartoons. Acting students reading this, will suddenly become aware of the usefulness of the many childish rehearsal games they will be asked to partake in, as the playground mentality of the author mischieviously weaves a ridiculous narrative, with a simple yet razor sharp eye. The musicality of this script is glaringly evident, and although i've never seen a McDonagh play performed, would realise that only the most skilled company could carry this off to the standard it should be. I look forward to reading, seeing and hopefully performing in more of these plays. He really does have his cake and eats it!
My fellow-reviewer J Phillips has hit a few nails on heads, and I would like to attempt to hit a few more. It seemed to me on first reading - alas, I have yet to see the play performed, and would very much like to - that McDonagh`s chief influence, at least in this play, is surely Sam Shepard. He has said in interviews that he is mainly inspired by film, and I can`t believe he hasn`t lapped up not only Shepard`s plays, but also his screenplays, and the films made from his work, eg. Fool For Love and, tellingly, True West. The Lonesome West could at a pinch be a Shepard play transposed to the west of Ireland. Two squabbling idlers, Coleman & Valene, exist in a kind of limbo-land (a more naturalistic Godot-forsaken place?) among the obsessive detritus of their frontier-type lives, visited - in the `haunted` sense of that word too, perhaps - by a Catholic priest, Father Welsh, and a Siren of a girl, the rather generically named Girleen. The spectre of death infuses the play too, and the warring brothers come near to topping each other more than once. Characters die during the course of the play, but a basic kind of life goes on. Interestingly, Girleen is the only one who appears to be seroiously affected by one of the deaths. This must be a bugger to learn, and you`d have to either be Irish or very confident in your ability to master not only the Galway dialect, but also the specifically colloquial way in which the play is written, to attempt to act the piece. It`s a very funny play, at times a moving one, with touching scenes, and a nice line in irreverence, with two central roles that are gifts to any actors brave and big enough to take them on. However - take away all the countless `fecking` words, the fraternal insults, the running gags...and I`m not sure there is all that much of substance in this admittedly boisterous, highly enjoyable play. I bet he enjoyed writing it, and I enjoyed reading it, but there is a little less here than meets the eye. Ah, but I`d love to see an all-out farcical production of this madcap comedy, so I would.