The Guild does it again with The Cripple of Inishmaan

We laughed. We cried. We cringed. The Guild’s new production of The Cripple of Inishmaan is an intense two-hour immersion in the camaraderie and viciousness of small-town life.

We laughed. We cried. We cringed. The Guild’s new production of The Cripple of Inishmaan is an intense two-hour immersion in the camaraderie and viciousness of small-town life.

The action centres on the general store in a bleak Irish village. If you changed the accents and hung a few hockey skates and hunting trophies by the woodstove, it could be any small northern town.

The screenplay, by London Irish legend Martin McDonagh, is punchy and the excellent Guild cast knows how to land the blows. One moment we are laughing out loud, until suddenly we’re not. You might have heard some Hollywood films described as “dark comedies,” but they are just grey laugh tracks compared to the emotional range of The Cripple of Inishmaan.

How many plays have you seen that have the audience doubled up in laughter, and then bring up themes involving orphans, family deceit, tuberculosis, suicide and the sexual appetites of priests? Or when moments of tenderness and reunion are followed by abrupt physical violence?

This is not the idyllic kind of Irish village you see in tourism ads.

The title character, called “Cripple Billy” to his face by the other villagers in pre-politically-correct Ireland, is played by Roy Neilson. Cooped up with his aunts (Bronwyn Jones and Mary Sloan), Billy struggles to endure the boredom, gossip and teasing that fill his life. Neilson plays Billy so convincingly that you can almost see him shrinking under the weight of his troubles.

When a Hollywood film crew comes to Ireland, Billy seizes his chance to escape along with tough girl Helen and her dim brother Bartley (Charlotte Courage and Graham Rudge). But, as much as Billy detests everyone in his village, they are also the only people who care for him. Billy has a lot to think about, including whether he will get the girl and whether tuberculosis will get him.

The Guild chose its play well. The Cripple of Inishmaan was a hit in London and New York, and has recently been restaged with Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame in the lead role. McDonagh is said to be the first playwright since Shakespeare to have four plays going simultaneously in London. Readers who work in government will be interested to hear that he worked at the U.K.‘s Department of Trade and Industry before quitting to write his plays.

One of the strengths of the Whitehorse production is how all nine characters hold their own on the stage. Mike Ivens plays the town gossip with verve, in turn entertaining and appalling us. Courage’s Helen is the Irish village girl that the boys are too scared to kiss. And Dorothy Martin plays the whiskey-sodden granny to great effect.

Another strength of the play is how director Brian Cochrane, who joins the Guild from Outside for this production, successfully choreographs the rapid-fire jokes, curses, calamities and occasional beatings that keep the piece moving briskly throughout.

The opening night crowd gave the cast a standing ovation when it was all over. We are fortunate to have an institution like the Guild in Whitehorse that puts on such fine productions. I heartily recommend The Cripple of Inishmaan.

Keep in mind, however, that the themes and content are not for everyone. But I guarantee that, if you go, you’ll be talking about The Cripple of Inishmaan for a long time.

The Cripple of Inishmaan plays at the Guild until Dec. 7. Tickets are available at Whitehorse Motors or at the door.

Just Posted

Driver files lawsuit over fire truck crash

Lisa Gallant-McRobb filed a statement of claim related to the Jan. 22 crash late last month

Without hemodialysis option, Yukon man returns home to die

Terry Coventry said he hopes the Yukon government will consider offering hemodialysis in the future


Wyatt’s World

Porter Creek Rams ride strong first quarter to boys Super Hoops win against F.H. Collins Warriors

After two days of competition, the F.H. Collins Warriors are 0-2 in boys play and 2-0 in girls play

Yukon officials issue warning after three fentanyl deaths last month

There were also a handful of overdoses that did not result in deaths

Commentary: Yukon firearm owners need a voice in Ottawa

Are Yukoners being effectively represented in Ottawa?

Toonie Tournament raises food and funds for Whitehorse Food Bank

“It was more about getting the kids out playing soccer and fundraising for the food bank”

Dahria Beatty wins bronze at Opa Cup cross-country skiing race in Slovenia

Whitehorse’s Emily Nishikawa was 10th in the 10-km race

RCMP asks B.C. cannabis shop to remove image of Sam Steele

Owner happy to comply with RCMP, but wants more information first

Team Yukon narrowly misses out on podium at Canadian Curling Club Championships

In both men’s and women’s competition, Team Yukon finished fourth

EDITORIAL: Time for the Yukon Party’s opening act

Having a competitive leadership race could be good for the party

City news, briefly

Some of the news from the Dec. 2 Whitehorse city council meeting

Arctic Sports Inter-School Championship draws athletes from as far as Juneau

The three-day event included more than 300 participants from kindergarten to Grade 12

Most Read