Review: The Cripple of Inishmaan

CAM00531[1]Boy does Daniel Radcliffe ever know how to fake a limp! His character, Cripple Billy in The Cripple of Inishmaan, has such trouble walking that his leg pops out awkwardly every time he moves. His hips and shoulders get into it too, as if his whole body is protesting every step. This is like the Porsche of fake limps.

To be honest it’s a little distracting. But it does speak to Daniel Radcliffe’s commitment, which I’ve long found impressive. If you watch the first Harry Potter again, it’s pretty obvious he isn’t a natural when it comes acting, but over the years he clearly worked hard, took tons of lessons, made risky choices, and has become a solid actor. By the end of the Harry Potter series I liked him more than I ever thought I would.

Before this blog post turns into a manifesto on Daniel Radcliffe, though, shall I discuss the play a bit? The Cripple of Inishmaan is an early dark comedy from Martin McDonagh — it might be the most audience-friendly of his shows. This London import (from director Michael Grandage) is the first Broadway production of Cripple, though it was here a few years ago off-Broadway too. It’s about a tiny community off the coast of Ireland in the 1930s, and is filled with comic interactions and dotty characters. The plot has to do with Billy’s longing to leave Inishmaan any way he can.

The play is funny mostly because of the hilariously blunt things these people say to each other (Billy is constantly being harassed for his disability, for example). It’s almost refreshing to hear such lack of tact, because the tone of it all is fairly good-natured, or so it seems. We see a few flashes of darkness later, especially in one jarringly violent scene. The play feels slight, though, and I think it would have worked better if it were shorter and intermissionless. There’s not really enough to sustain two and a half hours.

In any case, this show is still worth seeing (especially if you get the $27 balcony ticket and bring your trusty binoculars), because this is a really strong production. The marquee and Playbill cover might lead you to think this is star vehicle for Mr. Radcliffe, but it’s actually an ensemble piece. So it’s a good thing that the cast is all-around terrific, especially (Tony nominee!) Sarah Greene as Billy’s spitfire love interest Helen, who is constantly on the warpath about something or other. Daniel Radcliffe’s limp is the flashiest part of his performance, but he’s convincing and sweet throughout.

Oh and when I googled “Cripple of Inishmaan excerpt” I found this. It’s the whole play! Online! How is that not copyright infringement?

My Grade: B+
Ticket price: $27
Worth it: Yes
Standing ovation watch: A smattering