DARK HUMOUR WITH A FEMINIST TWIST
Martin McDonagh’s play ‘The Pillowman’, first performed in 2004 is a Tony-award-winning masterpiece that comments on the darkness surrounding issues of child abuse, murder, suicide and sexual assault. Local theatre company Stage Light and Magic Inc. staged their interpretation of the play on the 7th and 8th of July at the Punchi Theatre in Borella. The play was directed by Shannon Wannakuwatte with the main roles brought to life by Yasas Ratnayake, Swasha Perera, Tracy Jayasinghe, Bimsara Premaratne, Biman Wimalaratne and Ashini Fernando.
Stage Light and Magic Inc’s performance of ‘The Pillowman’ reinterpreted the original script by McDonagh exceptionally. The intensity and horror surrounding the murder of several children in the community and its investigation was balanced out with thought provoking humour. We were intrigued by the evocation of the violent human psyche through the paradoxical characterisation of the accused murderer, Michal (portrayed by Biman Wimalaratne) who is presented as ruthless but with an innocent, child-like tendency with a ‘slowness to get things’. While Michal’s ‘slowness’ generated laughter from the audience, they elicited a belated response of empathy in relation to his struggles with child abuse, sexual assault and murder.
‘The Pillowman’ is a play that delineates the power of memory and the significance of recounting memory through writing and narration. The character Katurian is a storyteller carrying the burdens of exploitation and violation from his childhood. His words “murder me, but save my stories” rang in the ears of the audience enriched by the skillful performance of Yasas Ratnayake. The role of storytelling in influencing and informing society about the realities of life was what emerged through the poignancy of Katurian’s character.
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