Hangmen, Playwright Martin McDonagh’s 2015 show, has opened a fresh run – until April 8 – in The Gaiety Theatre, following the huge success of the London-Irishman’s film, The Banshees of Inisherin, set in Achill Island.
The major new production includes a stellar cast with many familiar faces from Irish television, including internationally renowned star Killian Scott making his theatre debut.
The opening scene is a dimly lit gallows and proceeds with dark humour. We are introduced to Harry Wade, (Denis Conway), England’s second-best hangman, who’s about to finish his career with one last execution alongside his hapless assistant, Syd (Robbie O’Connor).
The effective, simple set unfolds to become Harry’s pub, acting as the main setting, where Anthony Morris, Daniel Reardon and Joe Hanley shine as a cast of bar flies, while Gary Lydon holds a more quiet, thoughtful presence as local policeman Inspector Fry.
The opening pub scenes are fizzing with energy and hilarity in the style we have come to enjoy from McDonagh. Meandering, absurd banter intersperse with the plot.
New to the Irish stage is Olivia Byrne, playing Harry’s teenage daughter Shirley and she is clearly a charming new star.
Bringing warmth and heart is Aisling O’Sullivan playing Harry’s loving wife and mother to Shirley. Her role shines as the conscience amongst the group.
Killian Scott arrives in as the ‘fish out of water’- a cocky Londoner visiting for unknown and murky reasons which unfold unpredictably throughout the play.
The real-life famous executioner Albert Pierrepoint (played by Peter Gowan) arrives towards the end, adding a meta-feel to the production.
Curtains closed to a standing ovation. It is often debated as to whether McDonagh is better suited to stage than film, and this tour de force production is certainly and argument for the former.