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The Pillowman, Crescent Theatre in Brindley Place, Birmingham.

SICK, twisted and brilliant, Martin McDonagh’s twisted tale of child abuse, torture and death in a totalitarian world is unexpectedly full of guilty laughs and utterly watchable.

SICK, twisted and brilliant, Martin McDonagh’s twisted tale of child abuse, torture and death in a totalitarian world is unexpectedly full of guilty laughs and utterly watchable.

Mark Tracey reprises David Tennant’s role as Katurian Katurian Katurian - not a typing error. Tracey tackles his difficult role, flicking from tortured to childlike to comedic with aplomb as he plays an author whose disturbed mind writes almost solely about children coming to gruesome ends.

But when kids begin dying in the same sadistic way as in his books, he is hauled in for interrogation.

Andrew Cowie is fantastic as the seen-it-all-before detective while Brian Wilson is the hot-headed Ariel whose hatred for child molesters stems from his own abuse at the hands of his father. Cowie and Wilson make the good cop, bad cop chemistry seem effortless but it’s only when they haul in Katurian’s mentally slow brother Michal that the truth begins to unravel.

Set in the theatre’s darkened studio, the stark highlights the character’s bleak world where a happy childhood was a rarity.

The audience also gets glimpses of Katurian’s depraved genius, none of which is more horrific than his autobiographical childhood story where we discover the reason behind the writer’s greatness and his brother’s brain damage.

The Pillowman will not be to everyone’s taste but anyone with a truly black sense of humour will love this irreverent, shocking but above all, entertaining play.

The Pillowman runs until Saturday, April 7.

Hannah Jennings Parry

 

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