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The Pillowman review at Curve Leicester

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This thriller is as gruesome as they come. It’s only in the second act that you realise you are free to laugh out loud at the irony of the writing, even as you jump out of your skin at the shocks induced.

There is mischief in the deliberately disorientating approach that gets the audience into Curve’s smaller auditorium and in the shutter-clicking video surveillance that tracks Katurian. He is a writer of fairy tales that are grimmer than Grimm and he has blood on his hands (and everywhere else) but this drama is not primarily about a police state at all.

Nor is it as simple as the good cop and the bad cop. Russell Dixon is magnificent as the fastidious, pettish, sneering interrogator, Tupolski. He can bully just by his eye movement. Benedict Wong’s Ariel appears to be a brainless thug but by the time the nails horrifyingly bang into a cross on which a young girl is crucified, much that motivates the detectives’ lives has come to the surface.

This is a play that makes huge and extraordinary physical and mental demands on the actors. Marc Warren meets them all as Katurian and so does Paul Ready as the child-like, slow-learning Michal. In one poignant moment he tries to comfort his tormented brother by stroking him, but his fingers make no actual contact.

The sound of children’s laughter ricocheting around the gantries contributes to the feeling of nightmare in a drama that audaciously demonstrates what the space can do.

Production Information

Curve, Leicester, February 5-March 7

Writer
Martin McDonagh
Director
Paul Kerryson
Producer
Leicester Theatre Trust
Cast includes
Marc Warren, Russell Dixon, Benedict Wong, Paul Ready
Running time
2hrs 50mins

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