Tuesday, May 25, 2010
A Behanding in Spokane by Martin McDonagh
Last Friday night I went to see Martin McDonagh's (The Cripple of Inishmaan) new play A Behanding in Spokane.
Christopher Walken stars as a man on a mission to find his hand that was cruelly taken from him in a "behanding" of sorts in, you guessed it, Spokane. He explains to his costars Sam Rockwell, Zoe Kazan, and Anthonie Mackie that there's nothing quite so painful as having someone wave goodbye to you with your own hand.
It was brilliantly dark and hilarious.
I have only ever written one fan letter in my life, and that was to Mr. McDonagh after watching his brilliant Cripple of Inishmaan in London 13 years ago. The premise of this story is completely deranged, but the premise isn't the point. The cutting word play, the psychological battle of wits, the pitting of one crazy against another--it's as though he decided to create a world where 4 idiotic characters were forced to hash it out in the same universe for a bit. And they do to the delight and entertainment of viewers.
There's a scene where con-artists Marilyn (Kazan) and Toby (Mackie) are chained to a radiator and pipe in the hotel room and left to die in an explosion by Walken's character. He leaves a candle burning on top of a gas can. When the candle burns out, they go boom. They search the room to find anything to try and knock the candle off of the gas can. They manage to open a suitcase and what do they find inside, hundreds of hands. Insanity!
Sam Rockwell plays a hotel receptionist. He is indescribably dumb and crazy, (sort of like everyone else in the play) with an affinity for monkeys. Walken asks him, "Have you ever lost someone you loved?" And Rockwell responds, "I remember seeing her lying there in the back of her cage." I just about died laughing at that point. Then Walken follows up after a perfectly timed pause. "In the back of a what?"
Apparently the man running the hotel is too crazy for the man who carries around a suitcase full of hands.
It's a hilarious and harsh view of life. Kazan is absolutely charming and adds a different hue of crazy to the cast. And Mackie has the difficult job of being the only one in the room who really sees things for how crazy they actually are. He spends most of his time swearing and freaking out. His sane foil isn't as much fun to watch, but it serves as a necessary contrast to the insanity oozing from everyone else.
If you get a chance to see the unmatched Christopher Walken and the brilliant Sam Rockwell, go!
It's playing at the Schoenfeld Theatre.