To begin, a warning: Martin McDonagh has never been for the faint of heart (or stomach), and The Pillowman may be the bleakest on his list of tragic, irreverent dark comedies. That said, McDonagh is a brilliant writer, and anyone able to brave the disturbing depths of his brain is in for a tearjerking, funny, horrifying treat. The premise is simple: a writer in a dystopian police state is accused of committing murders that mirror the endings of his grisly short stories with eerie symmetry. What could have easily ended up a cut and dry murder mystery or police procedural, though, excels and captivates because it ends up as a character story of the writer, his brother, and the two detectives working to solve the case. In McDonagh's typical fashion, no one is by any means a saint, but all of the characters have depths to plumb, and it's surprisingly easy to feel sympathy for all of them, considering some of the things they do. If you revel in dark works or, at least, find them palatable, The Pillowman is not a play you should pass up.
While still in his twenties, the Anglo-Irish playwright Martin McDonagh has filled houses in New York and London, been showered with the theatre world's most prestigious accolades, and electrified audiences with his cunningly crafted and outrageous tragicomedies. With echoes of Stoppard and Kafka, his latest drama, The Pillowman, is the viciously funny and seriously disturbing tale of a writer in an unnamed totalitarian state who is interrogated about the gruesome content of his short stories and their similarities to a number of child-murders occurring in his town.