The Hangmen Review
This dark, humorous play, written by Olivier and Academy Award® winner Martin McDonagh (The Pillowman, The Cripple of Inishmaan, In Bruges), opens in a condemned cell in 1963. Hangman Harry Wade, played by David Morrisey, cooly presides over the hanging of a young man charged with the murder of a girl. Despite firmly protesting his innocence, the man is sent to his death. Terrified he meets his fate; noose tightening, trap door opening, legs dangling. The calm and collected hangman demands his breakfast. All in a day’s work.
Jump to a pub in 1965. The hangman towers over a beer pump, serving his regulars. Capital punishment has just been abolished and his punters and a young journalist are desperate to get his opinion on the verdict. The tension heightens with the entrance of a mysterious, cocky, sinister southerner, played by Johnny Flynn, who has come for a very different reason.
Throughout, the play continues to shock, surprise, and shake you with laughter. The traits of each of the characters are fantastically portrayed through the incredible performances, and the juxtaposition of each setting is brilliantly reflected in the multi-level set designed by Anna Fleischle. It takes you from cold stark cell, which slowly rises to reveal the warmth of a typical 60s boozer – all dark wood and flocked wallpaper, which then opens to transport you to a greasy spoon on a cold, rainy evening, and back again.
The subject matter is fantastically dark and gritty, yet the play manages to entertain throughout with it’s witty black humour, and brilliantly written characters who are tremendously cast.