If you like your theater to have qualities in common with the movies of Quentin Tarantino, are nostalgic for the 90s, and want to spend some time amongst Irish monsters, well, The Aston Rep has a play for you.
If you like cats – or are allergic to the mice killers – not so much.
The troupe currently is offering Martin McDonagh’s The Lieutenant of Inishmore at The Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark St.
As the press release puts it, “It’s 1993 and the Northern Ireland peace process is struggling to come together. Padraic, a member of the Irish National Liberation Army, chooses to leave Belfast and return to Inishmore upon news that his beloved cat is ill.”
The release adds, “When he arrives, he learns the feline has suffered a much more tragic and immediate fate. Padraic, a man whose mental instability is legendary, is now hell-bent on revenge – and things are about to get bloody – very, very bloody.”
John Wehrman stars as Padraic, and offered a take into the most violent role he’s played.
“Padraic is mourning the loss of a pet. That’s so identifiable. The question becomes, ‘What would I do if I lost a pet?’” Wehrman said.
Wehrman noted that a trait people might be able to relate to in Padraic is his extreme loneliness and his feeling that he can only rely on himself.
This being McDonagh, that loneliness and self-reliance take brutal, comic twists and turns – plot points Wehrman said actors have to play for “the truth of the moment” and not necessarily for over the top laughs or cringes.
It’s also meant working with prop guns in a small theater and with prop dead animals and prop human limbs – and working on the dialect specific to the west of Ireland.
“It’s a perfect play for this time of year,” Wehrman said.
“There is a lot of gore, blood, and body parts,” director Derek Bertelsen.
Bertelsen said The Lieutenant of Inishmore is the most violent play he’s directed, and that he was drawn to the work by its black humor.
With all the action – including guns firing and somebody getting his head smashed into a table – Bertelsen said it’s taking a village to stage McDonagh’s work.
It also involved working with a live cat.
“He’s been such a trouper and steals the show,” Bertelsen said.
With what it has to offer, the 90-minute play should have appeal for people who don’t normally like to go to the theater.
“It’s a very fun show to see,” Bertelsen said.
“Bring your balls,” Wehrman suggested.
And should any of the above have you worrying about pet cats, Bertelsen said, “No animals were harmed in staging this show.”
The Lieutenant of Inishmore is playing at The Raven Theatre (West Stage), 6157 N. Clark St. in Chicago now through Nov. 23. Tickets are available at www.astonrep.com or by calling (773) 828-9129.