The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh: Programme Note for Decadent Production

I recently wrote a programme note for Andrew Flynn/Decadent Theatre’s production of Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman – which, by the way, is reportedly excellent (I’m referring to the production, by the way, not the programme note…).

It’s amazing that we have had to wait 12 years for the play to receive its first Irish production, though I do remember vividly the excellent touring NT production that toured to Cork in 2005.

The programme note has just been  published on the Decadent website:


The opening paragraphs draw from an excellent recent book about Boris Pasternak, The Zhivago Affair. I’d recommend it.


2 thoughts on “The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh: Programme Note for Decadent Production

  1. Hey Patrick. It looks like we’re polar opposites when it comes to drama! That’s healthy I think. I saw this play and thought it a very poor work. It’s overt derivativeness pervades its every beat. From Kafka via Beckett to Father Ted and back it wends its tedious way never forgetting to stop off whenever a facetious pun or arse joke presents itself. Interminable leaden speeches about psychotic child killings advertise its sick relish and total lack of heart and humanity. But the so called “big deal issue” about the sacred writer and his concern for immortality through his work is a preposterous piece of egotism on McDonagh’s part and rendered utterly ridiculous in the context of his offering here, a shabby little psycho schlocker with all the subtlety of a four stone sledgehammer. Best wishes, Bernard.


  2. Thanks, Patrick. Yes we need artists who confront power. Csilla and I just returned from the funeral of Csaba Laszloffy whose play that satirized the Secret Police during the darkest days of the Rumanian dictatorship we translated. Since it was so dangerous, it has never been produced in its original language but had its World Premiere in our translation. The four writers who eulogized Laszloffy all emphasized that he never compromised with communism–that is a vivid example of an artist who remains true to his art despite threats and –in this case–a lack of production for his work.

    All the best

    Donald Morse

    *Irish Theatre in Transition from the Late Nineteenth- to the Early Twenty-first Century*, (Edited by DEMorse) Palgrave Macmillan, published 22 January 2015 Ask your library to order: ISBN 978-1-137-45068-5


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