Monday, 12 August 2013

It's Time to Laugh with Harry Potter at The Cripple of Inishmaan

In a delightful twist to expectations, it turns out that everybody's favourite boy-wizard can act. Daniel Radcliffe and his child co-stars have long been accused of a lack of talent and empty fame built on the luck of being cast in the mega-film, Harry Potter franchise as children. Even those of us who were rooting for them worried that they would never be able to escape the wand-wielding typecast roles they played for their entire adolescence. How could they escape their alter-egos? Well, Emma chopped off all her hair and opted for the sexy dress route, while Daniel first shed all his clothes in Equus and now adopts an Irish accent to play the eponymous role in The Cripple of Inishmaan. So, did it work?

Look! It's Harry! I mean, Daniel...I mean Cripple - no, just Billy.

I am pleased to say that in the current West End production of Martin McDonagh's play, Daniel Radcliffe is excellent as Billy, a crippled young man desperate to get off his home island of Inishmaan. In fact, other than the gasp when Radcliffe first appears on stage, you soon forget that he has ever played anything else. Even his Irish accent is on point.

While half the audience of any given show may be Potter-fanatics and his face is shamelessly plastered on everything from the marquee to the script, he isn't really the star of the show. The ensemble cast is extraordinarily strong. All the actors work together flawlessly, bouncing off one another to keep the laughs coming. And no amount of Rowling magic can detract from the performance of Pat Shortt as Johnnypateenmike, who steals the show with a pitch perfect performance as the man with the news.

McDonagh's script is a poignant story, a biting social commentary and a hilarious take on small town living all wrapped up in two hours of brilliant acting. This show is not to be missed. It is a shining example of the amazing literature that comes out of Ireland (not that I'm hugely biased) and the top class shows available in London's West End.

The show runs at the Noel Coward Theatre until 31 August 2011. Tickets are £27.50 and £57.50 unless you queue up on the morning of the performance, in which case, a limited number of tickets are available for £10 each. We arrived at about 9:40am on Saturday morning and there were at least 50 people ahead of us. We go the last 4 tickets for the evening show. The box office opens at 10:30am and people had been waiting since 7:30am. There were even two guys there in rumpled tuxes. I wonder if the idea to line up for tickets seemed as good when they had sobered up. My advice? Get there early, but there isn't any reason to skip your morning ablution.


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