Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Pillowman (The SOB Review)

The Pillowman (The SOB Review) - Dowling Studio, Guthrie, Minneapolis, MN

***1/2 (out of ****)

The tagline for Minneapolis' fledgling Frank Theatre is "Reflecting the world we live in."

One shudders to think of the implications given the company's current production of The Pillowman -- currently playing in the Guthrie's more experimental space. It's one inference smacking of a detemined political nature: that our world is one overridden with torture and an overarching, ham-fisted threat thereof.

Still, under the direction of Wendy Knox and Joel Sass' deceptively simple chrome stage design offset by sliding doors that whir (courtesy of Michael Croswell's sound design), the slightly futuristic world inhabited by the The Pillowman's characters is a bleak totalitarian state where police employ nefarious scare tactics to wedge their way inside the minds of criminals.

Compared to the decent production I saw one year ago at Chicago's Steppenwolf, Knox offers a more incisively wide-eyed clarity to Martin McDonagh's long, yet riveting play about a young writer named Katurian Katurian (an excellent, exhausting spot-on turn by Jim Lichtscheidl) who comes under scrutiny by good cop Tupolski (brilliantly funny Luverne Seifert) and bad cop Ariel (a deliciously inscrutable Chris Carlson) when a series of murders too closely mirror his unpublished stories.

If there's one misstep, it's in Grant Richey's misguided channeling of Dustin Hoffman in "Rain Man" as Katurian's mentally challenged brother Michal, who comes across as much too all-knowing rather than an innocent incapable of understanding the carnage he has wrought.

Still, there's only empathy here for Katurian as he dispenses with his brother in a display of poetic justice so that his stories may outlive both of them. And thanks to the sheer enormity of angst Lichtscheidl brings to Katurian's tortured soul, there's more than sufficient pathos to leave us pondering what we'd do in the same situation.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for tickets.
Related Stories:
The Pillowman (The SOB Review) - Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago, IL (September 25, 2006)

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