The Cripple of Inishmaan


On my recent trip to London, I jumped at the opportunity to watch The Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh which was running at the Noël Coward Theatre. The whole cast was quite simply brilliant, but, as several theatre goers far more knowledgeable than myself insisted, Daniel Radcliffe’s performance deserves particular pause and praise not least because his was after all, the title role. He very clearly captures the plight of the outcast and tenderly plays with the audience’s heartstrings so that even his essentially cruel trick towards another character seems justifiable to the audience. He pulled off this artistically (not to mention physically) demanding role seemingly effortlessly, and made the audience genuinely care about his character’s fate.

Aside from the brilliant performances from all the cast however, I felt the play resonated with me, especially because of its setting. The story takes place, as the title suggests in Inishmaan, which is one of the main Aran Islands, located off the coast of Ireland. Not only is this reminiscent of Malta, because of the obvious fact that it is an island, but there are several stereotypical characteristics that would lend the play to our own country. Besides things like religion, I would quote the importance of family ties, which appear sometimes uneasy, yet ultimately define the characters and their actions throughout. The characters also display a sense of awe and idealization of anything beyond the shore, especially anything to do with the States or Hollywood. It is in fact, the production of a film nearby that inspires the whole action of the play. In their daily lives the characters thrive on gossip and on a sense of community, but there is always an idealization of the outside that is particularly reminiscent of home. Descriptions of unknown sweets that have not yet made it to our country and phrases like ‘our country isn’t so bad if the likes of (insert any foreigner’s name here) is visiting it’ are all too common in our everyday conversations. Although the play isn’t about our own country, I found myself suddenly embracing some of the characteristics which give Malta such a similar personality.

I feel certain that this play would translate very well on our shores and I look forward to the day someone decides to tackle it.