The highlight of my trip to NY might have been seeing Martin McDonough's play, The Pillowman, starring Billy Crudup and Jeff Goldblum. It's a special piece of writing, darkly funny even more than it is disturbing, with a strong sense of staging and giving actors juice. Crudup, who won a Tony for the part, plays (the Joseph Heller-ishly named) Kautarian, a writer of bleak children's stories, the kind that would make Lemony Snicket uncomfortable. He's suspected by the Totalitarian police to be connected to a series of grisly child murders with circumstances similar to those described in his stories. Which is only the beginning... He has a mentally slow brother (played with great humor and charisma by the John Belushi-shaped Michael Stuhlbarg) who is also incarcerated by their interrogators - Goldblum and Zejko Ivanek.
Goldblum futzed a couple of lines and was basically his usual stammering persona, but was still a treat, with one hilarious scene when he attempts to tell a metaphorical story of his own, with clumsy results.
The set consists of the two interrogation rooms, but add some very clever, creative staging for the various flashbacks and stories - with rooms that slide open from the top half of the room's rear wall, lit to look dreamily like a projected film.
The ending of the play is rather shocking in a way but perfectly apt, and the play overall didn't do what I feared it might, or what many other modern plays have done, which is get so caught up in the heavy metaphors and critical past events that they forget to compel in the moment as well. There's much needed humor amidst all the heaviness.
It ends Sept 18.