Paul Sheehan- Actor

The Lieutenant of Inishmore
September 28, 2010, 2:22 am
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Cast (in order of appearance)

Davey Hamish Campbell
Donny Greg Hunt
Padraic Paul Sheehan
James Samuel J. Craig
Mairead Molly Campbell
Christy Stephen Bolton
Joey Jim Lewis
Brendan David Oxley

There will be blood

The Hong Kong Players look set to shock audiences with their gory new play, writes Samantha Leese.

When you think of the Hong Kong Players, the word controversy probably doesn’t leap to mind. In fact, your first thought may be of amateur actors clad in sparkly costumes chanting “Oh yes he did!” in Christmas pantomimes. But this fortnight, the 165-year-old bastion of am dram is forging a new, cutting-edge direction with their staging of Martin McDonagh’s black comedy, The Lieutenant of Inishmore. It looks set to be one of the goriest plays this city has ever seen.

“It’s a dark, bloody comedy,” admits the young, New York-born director Eric Ng, when we meet in the smoky surrounds of Delaney’s pub in Wan Chai. Ng is here with Inishmore’s lead actor Paul Sheehan, a good-looking Irishman who is busy tucking into a large fry-up. In the past year, the duo has made a considerable amount of noise on the city’s English-language drama scene. Ng’s small theatre company, Looking Glass Productions, has yanked audiences out of their comfort zones with provocative scripts, such as last March’s The Pillowman (also by McDonagh) and December’s Cowboy vs Samurai. But their latest show promises to be their most ambitious to date.

Set in 1993 on an island off the west coast of Ireland, Inishmore fuses Tarantino-esque horror with absurd humour to create a fierce mockery of the Irish republican paramilitaries who terrorized Britain in the latter half of the last century. The play revolves around Padraic, a sadistic lieutenant of the Irish National Liberation Army, and his beloved cat Wee Thomas. When the cat is mysteriously killed, Padraic sets out on a wanton crusade of carnage that is not for the faint-hearted. It’s extremely bloody, but also very funny. After a run on Broadway two years ago, in which six gallons of stage blood were used per performance, the New York Times hailed Inishmore as an ‘Euripidean cycle of murderous revenge’.

It is exactly this controversy that attracted Ng to the play. “There are a lot of people that are going to be upset,” states the director confidently. “I can guarantee that.” Sheehan, who plays the bloodthirsty protagonist, erupts into laughter. “It’s a total show for the boys, too.”

By boys, of course, he means men, since the Players have rather tantalisingly slapped a ‘not suitable for under 16s’ tag on the play. This isn’t the first time the troupe has targeted mature audiences. The company’s move into more daring theatre first began in May 2005 when the princes of Panto launched their foray to the dark side with Del Shores’ twisted comedy Sordid Lives, about a broken family in America’s prejudice-infested Deep South. It was surprisingly well received, signifying that audiences were ready for more weighty drama. Last May, they continued with the heart-wrenching Rabbit Hole, David Lindsay-Abaire’s play about a couple struggling to accept the death of their child.

“We have been trying to branch out and do more adventurous and edgy plays,” agrees Teri Fitsell, who manages the Players’ publicity, and is the producer of this new show. She explains that the company has been increasingly on the look-out for a new generation of directors, who may not have the resources to realise their visions. “Our aim is to enable people with an interest in theatre to be able to put on productions, by giving them not only financial backing, but also our technical, marketing and artistic experience,” she says. Fitsell worked with the Looking Glass team when they put on The Pillowman last spring, and was impressed by Ng’s talent. When she heard the director was planning to tackle Inishmore but was struggling to afford the play’s gruesome stage effects, she suggested that the Players could fund the production and gain a worthy addition to their repertoire.

It was a risky move and, as Ng points out, kudos to the Players for taking it. “For a long time the idea was that you couldn’t sell a drama in Hong Kong,” he muses. “Now people seem to be a lot more on the ball. I think it’s [important to do] shows that are different, that people can come away from and see things. I have nothing but praise for what the Players have done to help us get off the ground.” We can only applaud their progressive new direction – and for those have any preconceptions about what a Hong Kong Players show will be like, they’re about to be smashed to smithereens, not to mention sliced into pieces.

The Lieutenant of Inishmore runs Wed 25-Sun 1, Arts Centre, McAulay Theatre.

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The Pillowman
September 28, 2010, 1:22 am
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''Once upon a time.."

Pillowman Poster- June 2008

The play first opened on March 26th 2008 at the Hong Kong Fringe Theatre, followed by a revival on June 24th 2008 at the McAulay Studio, Wan Chai Arts Centre, directed by Eric Ng. This cast starred:

  • Paul Sheehan – Katurian
  • Michael Pizzuto – Michael
  • Reuben M Tuck – Tupolski
  • Damien Barnes – Ariel

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Hello world!
September 5, 2010, 6:05 am
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