A bloody good time

In Des Moines for the second time in as many days to see a play, we knew we were in for a different sort of show when we entered the Des Moines Social Club and the guy who sold us the tickets warned us that there would be “real gunfire — not the fake kind — dead cats, and a lot of blood.”

Well, then! Let the show begin! This was the Lieutenant of Inishmore, one of Irish playwright Martin McDonagh’s violent comedies. But I (sort of) knew what I was getting myself into, because I saw one of McDonagh’s other plays, The Lonesome West, on Broadway several years ago.

Lieutenant was first produced in London and had a brief run on Broadway in 2006. My guess is that this show has a limited audience. Before you go to see it, ask yourself: Do I laugh hysterically during the Black Knight scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail? Do I think dead cats are funny? Do I giggle a bit when I see pretend torture? If you said yes to all of these things, you will clearly love this show.

I must have a very sick sense of humor, because, just like in The Lonesome West, I laughed myself silly. This is wicked good stuff.

Executive producer and lead actor Brendan Dunphy has made it his goal to produce all seven of McDonagh’s plays in Des Moines. This one is the fifth. Dunphy is a research associate in entomology at Iowa State. He’s also in one of Iowa State’s series of “Choose Your Adventure” commercials.

I won’t bother to tell you the plot, but it involves the Irish National Liberation Army, a girl who shoots the eyes out of cows to protest the meat industry, a couple of guys who like to eat shoe polish, bloody corpses, and a black kitty named Wee Thomas.

Unfortunately, there were about as many people in the cast as there were in the audience — and that is a real shame. Because this show is very, very funny.

3/23/11 update: I just spoke with producer Brendan Dunphy and he assured me that Sunday’s production was the only one that was not well attended. He said the others were sold out, or very close. That makes me feel better.



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