Entertainment

‘Hangmen’ is the best new play on Broadway

You’re completely wracked with guilt at “Hangmen” — from laughing so onerous on the many, many inappropriate jokes. A crude sight gag close to the top had me virtually dry heaving. 

That nonstop naughtiness is what makes Martin McDonagh’s killer satire the perfect new play on Broadway by a inexperienced mile. 


Theater assessment

Two and a half hours, with one intermission. On the Golden Theatre, 252 West forty fifth Road.

The Brit’s comedy, which opened Thursday night time on the Golden Theatre, is a heaping scoop of jaw-droppers and taboos — albeit with a complicated takeaway concerning the justice system — that’ll make wimps clutch their pearls for pricey life. The remainder of us can’t assist however chuckle on the macabre insanity.

Take the bizarre predominant characters: an executioner and a maybe-murderer. 

The present is about in 1965 England, simply as hanging (their most popular technique of capital punishment) has been outlawed. A yr after the ultimate offing, Harry (David Threlfall) — a well-known hangman — now owns a pub within the north and is a neighborhood movie star for silly, outdated drunks. They flock to see the person, who dryly estimates he supervised 233 killings, like he’s Woman Gaga at Joanne’s Trattoria. 

Says one doddering outdated idiot: “I don’t even just like the pints right here, however they’ve bought a hangman.” 

Drunks flock to the native pub to see the hangman (David Threlfall, left) within the flesh.
Joan Marcus

That rude, probably immoral premise shakes you awake. If an American scholar wrote a play like this one concerning the loss of life penalty at an Ivy League faculty, they’d in all probability get expelled after which banned from Twitter. However McDonagh is the Flying Wallendas of playwrights: he’s hooked on danger, irresistibly assured, and most of the time, reaches the top of an impossibly excessive tightrope victoriously.

His “Hangmen” takes place throughout an odd anniversary for Harry. A yr earlier, he executed a person who was convicted of killing a younger girl, nonetheless, the proof was scant and the prisoner maintained his innocence until loss of life. 

On this inauspicious day, a gangly chap from London named Mooney (Allen) arrives within the pub, saddles as much as the bar and creepily chats up Harry’s 15-year-old daughter, Shirley (Gaby French). Mooney is immediately suspicious however, to McDonagh and Allen’s credit score, we kinda like him regardless of our misgivings.

Concurrently, we marvel who this thriller man is, did the lifeless inmate do what he’s accused of and, a lot afterward, if a personality we’ve simply met is alive or lifeless. 

Ian Dickinson's surprising set is Broadway's best of the year.
Ian Dickinson’s stunning set is Broadway’s better of the yr.
Joan Marcus

As twisty as McDonagh’s script is Ian Dickinson’s phenomenal set — the perfect this yr of any present, play or musical — that’s a veritable Russian doll of scenic surprises.

Taking part in the barflys is an ensemble of stars. Whereas Allen, I’m certain, desires to flee the reminiscence of “Sport of Thrones,” he brilliantly brings the identical sniveling high quality of Theon Greyjoy to Mooney however tacks on some cosmopolitan swagger — a Patrick Bateman with an accent. Threlfall, in the meantime, is the kind of large character character actor a cartoonist couldn’t dream up. He’s burly and hysterical.

Tracie Bennett, as Harry’s beleaguered spouse, might have been transported from “Fawlty Towers” along with her ’60s character and comedian chops, and French handles the tough job of enjoying an imperiled teenager with the right quantity of innocence.  

McDonagh followers shall be delighted. The playwright offers his executioner and unhinged pervy weirdo the identical sympathetic, humorous therapy he gave a Northern Irish terrorist within the additionally teriffic “The Lieutenant of Inishmore.” Actually, that is his best play since that one, 16 years in the past. 

His “Hangmen” kills.

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