Harsh but fair.
by She&Her Productions
"The Pillowman" is a dark comedy written by one of the most famous dark comedic writers of the modern theatre age, Martin McDonough. As dark and as violent as this production is, however, it never loses the playwrights intention of being a *comedy*.
Trevor Belt's direction is strong and precise in this production. As two detectives grill a confused writer, (the good: Tupolski, the bad: Ariel, and the clueless: Katurian), there are moments of severe and scathing dialogue that drift seamlessly into ridiculous banter that will make you forget they're going to shoot him in the head at any minute. The audience finds themselves torn between taking it too seriously and cracking a wide-eyed and surprised smile at it all while the police grill him mercilessly.
When Michal, Katurian's mentally challenged brother, enters the action, things take an even more frightening twist. Jeremy Frazier's brilliant performance is heart-wrenchingly believable, and the brotherhood that exists between he and fellow actor Coleman Crenshaw is fascinating to watch. Likewise, the dichotomy between Matt Leonard as the bad cop(?) and Rick Williamson as the good cop(?) mixes in colorful but painful layers of drama that carry throughout the play.
As fascinating, funny, and harsh as it all is, there are some minor set-backs. Yes, it's an interrogation -- but does there really have to be that much screaming during one? I don't know, I've only seen them on movies and TV, and those are obviously exaggerated. But I found myself wondering if some moments might've been more effective "whispered" than "shouted". Costumes seemed minimal if non-existent. If it's set in a totalitarian dictatorship, would the citizens really be wearing Abercrombie and Fitch? I don't know, I've never lived in one. But hey, non of my complaints are a very big deal anyway.
I love the script, have loved it for a while, and I think the production as a whole does the playwright and the play more than justice. I recommend all KC theater-goers to make the time to see this show. After all, escapism can only give you so much -- and this show will give you the rest.
read the review at KC Stage