The Pillowman ★★★ Duke of York's Theatre | Jun 10 - Sep 2, 2023

The writer, Katurian, has produced a series of stories which clearly mirror the murders of some local children. She or her mentally challenged brother, either individually or jointly, might be responsible for these terrible crimes. They are hauled into a local police station and are threatened with torture unless they reveal their involvement. Martin McDonagh has written a play that intends to keep the audience vacillating between horror and laughter as the grisly story comes out in the context of the absurdity of the interrogation. Unfortunately for us, the nature of the crimes was too numbing to allow for the intended dark humour to resonate. Katurian's stories, like The Pillowman itself, are mainly parables about the traumatic sources that may be a wellspring for much art. Similarly, the play reflects on the old chestnut of whether art influences or is responsible for its affect on people. The play begins with a half-remembered quotation about the responsibility of the storyteller being to tell a good story. In this case, the points are hammered home rather relentlessly and the mixture of horror, humour and aesthetic commentary wears thin. As Katurian, Lily Allen demonstrates some impressive acting chops, and both Steve Pemberton and Paul Kaye put in strong performances as her menacing interrogators who are full of comic repartee. The Pillowman will certainly have an audience, but for us the various components didn't mesh. Still, if you're up for an evening of Grand Guignol laced with some Theatre of the Absurd, this might be the perfect show for you.

Rated: ★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Johan Persson

Want to save on tickets? See our Tips page.

When, Where, Getting there:
  • Jun 10 - Sep 2, 2023
  • Mon - Sat: 7:30 pm, Wed & Sat: 2:30 pm
  • Duke of York's Theatre
  • Nearest tube: Leicester Square

Most Popular

The Sorcerer ★★★★★ Wilton's Music Hall | June 11 - 15, 2024

Fun at the Beach Romp-Bomp-A-Lomp!! ★★★★ Southwark Playhouse, Borough | May 24 - Jun 22, 2024

Heathers The Musical ★★★★ @sohoplace | Until July 6, 2024

St. Martin in-the-fields: Lunchtime Concerts ★★★★ FREE

Suite in Three Keys ★★★★★ Orange Tree Theatre | May 24 - Jul 6, 2024

Guys & Dolls ★★★★★ Bridge Theatre | Until January 4, 2025

Three Men in a Boat ★★★★ The Mill at Sonning | Jun 6 - Jul 13, 2024

Beyond Fashion ★★★★ Saatchi Gallery | May 31 - Sep 8, 2024

Discover Degas & Miss La La ★★★★ The National Gallery | Jun 6 - Sep 1, 2024 (Free Entry)

No Love Songs ★★★★ Southwark Playhouse, Elephant | June 4 - 15, 2024

The City Life Magazine | Reviews & Ratings