Digging the dark comedy

A Skull in Connemara Blue Room Theatre Thursday, Aug. 7 Plays through Aug. 24

What sticks in my head more than anything else in the Blue Room’s production of the final play in Martin McDonagh’s Leenane Trilogy (directed by Jeremy Votava) is the performance put in by the theater’s Artistic Director Joe Hilsee. What universe is he from? His rendition of the Irish cop Thomas Hanlon is insane! His bipolar swings were unnerving and thrilling. From the hilarious, lisping detective wannabe who acts like he knows more than he really knows, to the un-corked ferocity (which reminded me of the jarring outbursts Adam Sandler scared me with in the movie Punch Drunk Love) barely hidden below the surface, Hilsee was hilarious and frightening.

“Under the surface” is actually the key to the whole play. The town of Leenane is sad and dying, and constantly digging up its graves after seven years to make way for more dead, and digging up the past in the process. Charged with this gruesome duty is the saddest of them all, Mick Dowd. Rob Wilson does a wonderful job as the brooding, drunk gravedigger who must soon unearth the remains of the wife he killed seven years earlier while driving drunk, and in the process unearth his own life of pain, anger and regret.

Ken Janke (as the soccer hooligan-ish Mairtin Hanlon), and Lorna Bridges (as the bingo-addicted drunk Maryjohnny Rafferty) are equally incredible as they weave to and fro along with the rest of the town.

Funny and dark, as promised. I can’t wait to see it again.