Last evening marked the Chicago premiere of Martin McDonagh's critically-acclaimed play The Pillowman -- which won the 2004 Olivier Award for Best Play and was nominated for the 2005 Tony. The decidedly dark play made its Chicago debut at the Steppenwolf Theatre and met with critical approval from the city's two major papers.
Calling The Pillowman "brilliant" and "one of the very best plays of the past decade," Chicago Tribune's Chris Jones sounds his disappointment that the show's shock quotient has been diminished in its journey to Chicago: "Many will find the show disturbing, as the playwright intends. But I doubt you will be scared out of your wits or stifling screams. Which is a shame. (Amy) Morton's production compensates by focusing on powerful acting....(Yesan) Peyankov could do to be somewhat nastier early on, but once it gets fired up, their relationship makes for some blistering theater. Superbly cast and dominant, (Tracy) Letts -- who recalls a nastier version of David Letterman -- fires on every one of his combustible cylinders."
In recommending the play, Chicago Sun-Times critic Hedy Weiss zeroes-in on Morton's direction and the ensemble's acting. "Morton keeps the willing suspension of belief and the shrewder instinct for disbelief in a state of continual tension....And Peyankov, his head shaved like an egg, brings a winning authenticity to Ariel (no doubt drawing on his own upbringing in communist Bulgaria). He is perfect."
The Pillowman (The SOB Review) - Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago, IL (September 25, 2006)
Steppenwolf's Pillowman Opens Tonight in Chicago (September 24, 2006)