After sellout success at the Royal Court, Hangmen on the West End is just as dark, tense and bitterly funny.
With two Oliviers, an Oscar and a BAFTA to his name, Irish writer Martin McDonagh's a master of creating captivating drama on stage and screen. Even if you haven't heard the name, you'll have seen one of his hits. He was behind blackly funny films In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, and has impressed on both Broadway and the West End, with Olivier-winning The Pillowman and most recently with The Cripple of Inishmaan starring Daniel Radcliffe.
This latest Martin McDonagh is characteristically erratic, surprising and offbeat, leaving the audience is powerless to predict the next move. Monologues are matched with pacy dialogue and under the direction of Matthew Dunster, no element of McDonagh's dark and dry humour is left unexplored. The staging is also a revelation. Prison cells rise from the floor and diners appear from the rafters.
McDonagh's renowned for bringing a combination of wit and profundity to the very darkest of subject matters (Pillowman, his Olivier-winning comedy at the National Theatre deals with the massacring of infants).
Hangmen is no different. As the title suggests, the hero, Harry, is an executioner who we meet on the day that capital punishment is abolished. Among locals curious to hear Harry's reaction, there is a 'menacing' newcomer with more mysterious motivations for visiting.
David Morrissey as the second best hangman in Britain has amazing range – bouncing between a mad tyrant taking court in his tatty pub to the naughty school boy being told off by his rival for stepping out of line. Bronwyn James is ‘our Shirley’ deserves a mention for her fantastic comic timing and portrayal of the hormonal teenage daughter drawn in by an older man.
But the real star is Johnny Flynn - the folk singer-songwriter turned stage actor- who whips up a storm as menacing stranger Peter Mooney. Sending the ensemble into disarray, the boy next door swings to mentally deranged with just a flick of blonde hair
As the play comes to a climax the farcical tone of the final ensemble piece is magnificently realised and the audience doesn't know whether to cry with laughter or despair.
A savage satire on the justice system, Hangmen is a tour de force that shows McDonagh working at the peak of his capabilities with the audience hanging on his every word.
|Hangmen, Wyndham's Theatre review
|Wyndham's Theatre, 32 Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0DA | MAP
|Leicester Square (underground)
01 Dec 15 – 05 Mar 16, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
|£10 - £35
|Click here to book tcickets