THE HANGOVER REPORT – Off-Broadway’s HANGMEN is a ferocious, and welcome, return to form by Martin McDonagh

Mark Addy and Johnny Flynn in Martin McDonagh's "Hangmen" at the Atlantic Theater Company.

Mark Addy and Johnny Flynn in Martin McDonagh’s “Hangmen” at the Atlantic Theater Company.

Last night, Martin McDonagh’s Hangmen opened Off-Broadway at the Atlantic Theater Company. I’m happy to report that the play marks a ferocious, and deeply welcome, return to form by the hugely talented Irish playwright (this year Oscar-nominated for his Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri). Hangmen, unbelievably, is the first new McDonagh play to be staged in New York since the rare misfire A Behanding in Spokane eight years ago on Broadway. We’ve missed him.

Set in a pub nestled in a sleepy northern English town, the play tells the story of Harry, a recently-redundant hangmen (hanging convicted criminals was outlawed in England in the mid 1960s), and a mysterious stranger from London with a sketchy past who shakes up his hum-drum life. I won’t reveal any more of the plot except to say that mayhem ensues and the macabre hilarity escalates. All in all, Hangmen is trademark McDonagh – it’s dark, gutturally hilarious, and deliciously unsettling; a combination that makes for smashing, irresistible theater. Certainly, it’s a privilege to hear the playwright’s unmistakable voice up on the boards again.

The production at the Atlantic is tautly helmed by Matthew Dunster, who also directed the original Royal Court production (and the subsequent West End transfer), and his staging is pitch-perfect, raucously capturing all the shades of Mr. McDonagh’s script. The staging features original cast members Johnny Flynn, Sally Rogers, and Reece Shearsmith, all of whom offer master classes in character studies. As the mentioned London interloper, the seductive Mr. Flynn is particularly fine at carving a meticulous, intriguing portrait; his character is both beautifully nuanced yet disquietly vague. As the boisterous, psuedo-cuckold former hangman Harry, Mark Addy is both lovable and deplorable.

I can easily see this one transferring uptown lock, stock, and barrel.



Off-Broadway, Play
Atlantic Theater Company
2 hours, 15 minutes (with one intermission)
Through March 7

Categories: Off-Broadway, Theater

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