Written by Martin McDonagh
My last review of The Pillowman was effective enough in describing my praise, but I think it did a lousy job getting across my deeper appreciations, and I would to redress the work, if I may, and do it right this time.
The Pillowman, on the surface, is about the interrogation of Katurian, a writer suspected of killing several children. He is questioned by Tupolski and Ariel, two policemen working for a totalitarian regime. To reveal much more of the plot would be to do it a disservice, as always seems to be the case with McDonagh. His stories simply go somewhere new, and finding out where is half the joy of experiencing his work for the first time.
The Pillowman is also the story of Katurian's stories, several of which are meted out to the audience. The occasions where Katurian addresses the audience directly, narrating as one of his stories is acted out behind him, are hypnotizing. The stories are simple, but the language with which McDonagh conveys them is magical; there isn't a better word than hypnotizing, I don't think, to adequately convey their quality. All of them sound somehow vaguely familiar, yet manage to stay engaging and even exhilirating.
The conclusion of the play, once it happens, seems inevitable; Of course, you'll say to yourself, there wasn't really any other choice. It had to happen this way. But that makes the getting there all the more entrancing, knowing that the ending is coming, is charging, straight for you, and there's no way to get out of its path.