February 28, 2002

Inishmaan, Indeed

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The Aral Islands are a small archipelago off of Ireland’s west coast, about 30 miles away from Galway City on the mainland. Inishmaan, the middle island in this tiny chain, is a roughly circular body with between 250 and 300 residents. This small, isolated town is the setting for acclaimed playwright Martin McDonagh’s show entitled The Cripple of Inishmaan.

Currently staged by the Kitchen Theatre Company at their home in the Clinton House, the show brings a little piece of Ireland right here to Ithaca.

With a cast composed of regional and professional actors, The Cripple of Inishmaan is a thought provoking tale about love and loyalty that’s carried out in one of the most unique and intimate theatre spaces around.

Indeed, the first thing one is bound to notice about this show is the size of the acting space. With only 73 seats in the house, the Kitchen Theatre keeps all audience members within approximately 15 feet of the action. While this provides a spectacularly intimate vantage point for audience members, it can also prove to be a great challenge to actors — or, rather, it could have posed a problem given a lesser cast.

The stage upon which they play is little more than some feaux-stone, paint, and a few sparse set pieces. However, with some truly ingenious technical work, the space soon becomes a multiplicity of locales: a general store, a bedroom, the rocky Inishmann coast, and a desolate room in a California boarding house.

The play is the story of “Cripple” Billy Claven, an orphaned young man who has been raised by his doting and neurotic Aunties. Played by S^