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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Dark humor benefits viewers in upcoming NE play

By Kenney Kost/ne news editor

“Mad” Padraic, played by Kenneth Eberly, is pulled away from another prisoner after several attempts to kick him during NE’s production of The Lieutenant of Inishmore.
David Reid/The Collegian

Killing cats, revenge plots and murder — topics that normally wouldn’t draw too many laughs from a crowd — are the central themes of the black comedy The Lieutenant of Inishmore being performed on NE Campus Nov. 28-Dec. 3.

Originally written by playwright Martin McDonagh, writer of films In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, the play is set in early-’90s Ireland and revolves around the lead character “Mad” Padraic.

It is implied that Padraic has his hands in some level of organized crime. One afternoon while he is administering some torture, he gets the message his cat is in bad shape.

He is intent on making his way back to the Island of Inishmore to find out exactly what is ailing his cat Wee Thomas. This sets the stage for a revenge plot he plans to see through to the end, no matter what the cost or who gets in his way.

“Traditionally in a comedy, we’re laughing at things everybody would agree on is funny,” said NE drama instructor Julie Gale. “Dark comedy tends to take subjects we wouldn’t normally laugh at, but put in a certain context, we are able to laugh at.”

Shooting cats at point-blank range and people getting tortured are not funny topics, Gale said. She strives to put these situations in a context where it is OK to laugh. Even if people don’t find it funny, they can still understand the context, which brings about the humor.

“I chose this play for a few reasons,” she said. “One is that it’s actually on the theater blacklist for being one of the most unproducible plays. It’s not written to be produced on stage. I am kind of a glutton for punishment when it comes to picking out plays, and I like the challenge.”

Gale said she likes to challenge herself as well as her students.

“Also this play, I think, is really good for students because comedy is a really hard thing, especially this one because it can devolve into really bad taste. And it is going to be interesting to see how they balance some of the ideas in the play with humor.”

Gale said she always picks a show with “what will the students learn from it,” in mind, saying the play challenges beyond just knowing lines and walking onstage to perform. Several technical aspects of the show that her students may not have encountered previously are crucial to making the play work.

NE student Kenneth Eberly plays the role of Padraic.

“He is completely out of his mind. He has the ‘shoot-first, ask-questions later’ mentality, and he certainly does,” Eberly said. “He is very emotional, and he doesn’t think his actions through too terribly much. He is just kind of in the moment, and whatever feels appropriate, he just does it.”

Eberly said he enjoys working through his character’s emotions. He said Gale works from more of an improvisational style of directing. This allows for actors to bring more creative flow to the play itself. Since Padraic is so emotional, Eberly said he is learning how to dig deeper than he normally would to bring some of these emotions to the surface.

NE student Brandon Wimmer plays Donny, Padraic’s retired father who lives in the woods alone.

“Donny is the type of man who, if he finds a Frisbee in his yard, it’s his Frisbee,” Wimmer said.

Wimmer, who has always been a dark comedy fan, said he likes the chance to perform in a McDonagh play.

“I love dark comedies. I went to the midnight premiere of Seven Psychopaths,” he said. “I just think it brings something innately human to it when we find out we can laugh at even our own mortality.”

Gale expects her actors to do just as much work toward the direction of the play as she does, Wimmer said, trying to find a happy medium between what she mapped out and what the actors bring in.

“We kind of riff off of each other similar to improvisational jazz,” Wimmer said.

NE student Evan Fladager has never acted seriously up to this point nor taken any drama classes. He showed up with a friend auditioning for a particular part, ended up reading some lines for a character named Davey and got the part.

“Davey is an interesting character,” said Fladager. “He’s not physically fit and has probably been bullied a bit in his life. To make up for the fact that he is somewhat weak, he fights with his words. He is kind of a coward with a loud mouth.”

Fladager said Davey is somewhat like he was in high school with the same attitude and taste in music.

“I’m playing myself as a 17-year-old,” he said.

Having a morbid sense of humor, Fladager said he is right at home in this element. Even though acting is new to him, he feels comfortable in his character.

Gale said the entire cast is working hard to bring the production to life.

“The theater is a big magic trick,” Gale said. “And what we are doing is trying to figure out how the magic trick is going to work. There is also a bit of social commentary in this work, talking about people going to extreme measures to fight for what they believe in and what they think is just.”

Gale hopes to provoke thought on serious subject matter through laughter while shedding light on some of the issues society faces each day such as terrorism and fanaticism.

The Lieutenant of Inishmore will run nightly at 7 p.m. with a matinee showing at 2 p.m. Dec. 3 in the NFAB Theatre.

The show is free for TCC students, faculty and staff, $3 for non-TCC students and senior citizens and $6 for the general public. To purchase tickets, call the box office at 817-515-6687. This play is not suitable for children.

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