Review: Pillowman will not be letting you sleep easy
The Pillowman at Lyric Theatre, Belfast
'Write about what you know' - the advice given to anyone considering putting their thoughts on paper - makes you tremble at the thought of what Martin McDonagh knows.
The Pillowman opens in a prison cell where Katurian Katurian is being questioned about the grim tales he has written about children who come to a terrible end. A copycat killer has made fiction a reality.
Director Andrew Flynn brings the story to the stage with the help of Carl Kennedy's eerie music box soundscape and Owen MacCarthaigh's bleak set. Plots are what McDonagh does best - his skill in punching a hole through tension with a comic line ensures the pace and narrative twist and turn.
Terrific performances by Peter Campion as the defiant writer, and Michael Ford-Fitzgerald as his damaged brother Michal are supported by the good cop, bad cop combination of David McSavage's Tupolski and Gary Lydon's Ariel. The play is overlong, weighed down by McDonagh's penchant for repetition. But the chilling stories, and McDonagh's concerns about the influence of the state - 'We like executing writers,' says Tupolski. 'Dimwits we can execute any day of the week' - make this an unsettling, must-see production.