Michael Grandage’s production of Martin McDonagh’s The Lieutenant of Inishmore which will open at the Noël Coward Theatre stars Aidan Turner as Mad Padraic, a terrorist deemed too violent to be a member of the IRA.
This satire on terrorism, The Lieutenant of Inishmore also stars Denis Conway, Will Irvine, Daryl McCormack, Julian Moore-Cook, Charlie Murphy, and Chris Walley, alongside Brian Martin, who caught up with us to tell us more.
The Lieutenant of Inishmore is at The Noel Coward Theatre 23rd June – 8th September 2018.
You’re starring in The Lieutenant of Inishmore, which is coming to the Noel Coward Theatre, what can you tell us about it?
Set in Ireland in 1993, the play tells the story of Padriac, a member of the INLA, who, while busy at work in Belfast blowing up chip shops and torturing drug dealers, receives a phone call from his father to say his beloved cat, Wee Thomas, is unwell. Padraic loves that cat more than life itself and immediately returns home to look after his furry friend. What follows is an all-out bloody rampage by the vengeful Padraic, which is as horrific as it is hilarious. Think Father Ted meets Quentin Tarantino.
What appealed to you most about the play, and the character?
Everything. The characters are hilarious, the plotting is ingenious, and the anti-terrorist message is more relevant than ever. I first read Lieutenant over 10 years ago and I was giddily hooked from start to finish. No other play has come close to evoking such a response and now I get to be in it. I’m pinching myself in rehearsals everyday.
I play James Hanley, a Northern Irish fella, who is strung upside-down and tortured by Padraic in an abandoned warehouse. I spend most of the scene upside-down, so it’s quite a physically demanding role.
How does this character differ to others you have played?
Normally I would say being hung upside-down is a big difference, but funnily enough this will actually be the third time I’ve acted upside-down (twice before in Titus Andronicus and Boudica at the Globe). I’m not quite sure how that’s happened to be honest, but I’m not complaining. It’s actually quite fun. The last director I worked with described me as being “part bat”.
How would you describe Martin McDonagh’s writing?
Inimitable. He’s a genius. There isn’t an ounce of fat on the script. Everything everyone says is either pushing the story forward or telling you more about their character and it’s done in such a way that is both seamless and sidesplittingly funny, and before you know it you’re caught up in one of the most grotesque and plot-twisting climaxes you will ever witness onstage. Yet there is an important message at the heart of the play. McDonagh warns about the dangers of nationalism and it justifies violence for the sake of your country (or cat).
Have you worked with Michael Grandage before? What do you hope to learn from him?
No, this is my first time working with Michael and it’s been an absolute pleasure so far. We have just finished our 4th week of rehearsals and we’ve already gone through the entire play twice. He works at such a pace and yet he’s very thorough. And there’s a relaxed atmosphere too which means the actors feel free to play around with ideas. I’d say the main thing I’ve learned from Michael so far is how important it is to prepare before rehearsals even start. Everyone had to be off-book by week 1 which meant we were all ready to dive straight into the work.
What are you most looking forward to when it comes to working with the other members of the cast?
I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with some incredible English casts over the last few years, but there’s a special comradery that comes from working with all-Irish casts in particular. There’s an immediate friendliness between everyone and there’s lots of bantering and slagging but it’s all in the name of fun. Much like the play, I’m sure the next few months will be a load of craic.