‘In his small pub in Oldham, Harry is something of a local celebrity. But what’s the second-best hangman in England to do on the day they’ve abolished hanging? Amongst the cub reporters and sycophantic pub regulars, dying to hear Harry’s reaction to the news, a peculiar stranger lurks, with a very different motive for his visit.‘
Martin McDonagh returns to The Royal Court with Hangmen, a fantastic dark comedy that doesn’t let up from the first word to the last.
The skill here was in mixing the grim context of hanging – in both its raw actuality and its personal effect on people, allowing for some striking imagery – with an effortless flow of humour that had the audience laughing throughout.
I have a little thing for accents, so the northern setting was really enjoyable; I loved the dialect and the idioms, and you really felt like you were in the time period that the play was set in. The cast was fantastic; from David Morrissey’s brash Harry to the beautiful comic timings of Simon Rouse, working well with each other to maintain the humour, keep the pace and retain that air of tension throughout.
Anna Fleischle’s sets were intimate and atmospheric, from the minimalist prison cell to the inviting nature of the ‘local’ pub, making me feel like I was part of the action, something rare for me as I normally have a level of detachment.
The Royal Court never fails to disappoint me and this particular play was a breath of fresh air that I highly recommend.
Hangmen is on at the Royal Court theatre (in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs) until October 10.