by Lorie Lewis Ham
The Cripple of Inishmaan is currently on stage at 2nd Space in Fresno. It is a dark comic tale in the tradition of Irish storytelling.
The play is set on a remote island off the coast of Ireland in 1934. The inhabitants are excited to learn that a Hollywood film crew will be arriving in the neighboring Inishmore to make the film Man of Aran, and several of them want to be in the movie. But the person who wants this most is a crippled young man named Billy (Billy Anderson), who hopes it will bring some excitement to his tedious and sad life–a life where he is constantly teased because of his condition. Billy goes to extreme means to get to Inishmore for the filming, and it does indeed end up changing his life in ways he could never have imagined.
Billy lives with his two overly protective “fake” aunts Kate (Kate McKnight) and Eileen (Karan Johnson), who took him in after his parents died. They learn about the movie from the town gossip, Johnnypateenmike (Gordon Moore). The cast also includes a brother and sister who are equally determined to be in the movie–Bartley (Alex Vaux) and Helen (Emily Campbell), and a local gentleman named Babbybobby (Terry Lewis) whose boat they all want to take to get to Inishmore. There is also Johnnypateenmike’s drunk mom Mammy (Patricia Hoffman), and a town doctor (Jeff Dinmore).
A lot of the comedy in this show comes from the crazy gossip and how it changes and spreads over the island, and the banter between the overprotective aunts. Gordon is a riot as the over the top heralder of the town gossip, Johnnypateenmike. Helen is also an interesting character who is both funny and a bully, and is especially bad to Billy. Emily and Alex play well off each other as siblings.
The Cripple of Inishmaan is an interesting mix of comedy and serious drama. Billy’s story is sad and compelling, and Billy Anderson does a perfect job in this difficult role. Terry Lewis gets to play a very different role from what I have seen him play before, as the somewhat gruff, yet mostly softhearted Babbybobby–watch for a very unexpected twist with his character later in the show. The show actually takes several unexpected turns toward the end. There are also some very heartwarming and heartbreaking moments.
Everyone does a great job of bringing to life these crazy Irish characters. You will find yourself laughing a lot, and there are definitely some moments fit for tears as well. For an interesting story, wonderful acting, and lots of laughter, don’t miss The Cripple of Inishmaan on stage at 2nd Space in Fresno until June 14. More info can be found, and tickets purchased, on their website: gcplayers.com/gcp-shows/the-cripple-of-inishmaan.
Check out more local arts and entertainment articles in KRL’s A & E section.