Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Review: Hangmen at the Wyndham's Theatre

Wyndham's Theatre
Reviewed on Monday 7th December 2015

Having sold out its run at the Royal Court earlier this year, Matthew Dunster's production of Hangmen by Martin McDonagh has transferred to the West End's beautiful Wyndham's Theatre for a limited season. 

Set in a pub in Oldham, the action unfolds on the day hanging was abolished in the UK in 1965. David Morrissey leads the cast as landlord Harry, also known as the "second best hangman in England". Interestingly the piece delves into issues surrounding capital punishment as well as fame, self worth and loyalty.

This was my first time seeing Hangmen and I had anticipated something of a grisly evening; I was therefore surprised to find myself laughing out loud throughout.

McDonagh's play is wickedly funny - it's a dark and gritty story told with some fantastically written characters. The effect is terrific; I sensed those around me, like myself, were fairly taken aback by the humour. It is a superbly uncomfortable experience. 

Morrisey is the driving force behind the piece's unpredictability; from the moment we first see Harry being pestered by a journalist we know there is a lot of pain and frustration behind his eyes which is waiting to be unleashed.

Johnny Flynn is disturbing as Mooney who pushes Harry to his limits, whilst Simon Rouse steals many of the evening's biggest laughs as Arthur who brings the tone back down to earth. The piece may be male-dominated, but Sally Rogers and Bronwyn James come into their own as Harry's wife, Alice and daughter, Shirley.

Hangmen could certainly be one of my top plays of the year. The piece sits well in the Wyndham's with a neat design by Anna Fleischle. The tone shifts from silly sitcom to depressing drama within seconds; expect the unexpected.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Hangmen runs at the Wyndham's Theatre until 5th March 2016.
Please visit www.hangmentheplay.com for further information and tickets.

Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks

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