Since local audiences have come to know playwright Martin McDonagh through the short, sharp shocks of The Pillowman (which Theatre in the Park gave a five-star run in February) and onyx-black comedies such as The Lieutenant of Inishmore and A Skull in Connemara, they'll likely need to recalibrate expectations a bit before catching his 1996 comedy The Cripple of Inishmaan. A remote Irish fishing village brushes up against modernity in the 1930s when a Hollywood company arrives on a nearby island to make the film Man of Aran. An uproar ensues when the teenager everyone calls Cripple Billy, whose main hobby has been looking at cows, auditions for the film.
While it's not exactly a Doris Day/Rock Hudson romp, the play's take on an island full of busybodies who think they know each other's business is tender when compared to McDonagh's darker works. Still, "tender" is a relative term with folk as frank and crusty as this. Veteran Tom Marriott directs a cast including Ishai Buchbinder, Marcia Edmundson, Julie Oliver and Eric Swenson; the set is by Miyuki Su. —Byron Woods