Leaving the whole world blind

The Lieutenant of Inishmore

“I’ll show you a grumpy cat.”

“I’ll show you a grumpy cat.”

Photo by Joelle Robertson

The Lieutenant of Inishmore, 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday; $10-$16. Big Idea Theatre, 1616 Del Paso Boulevard; (916) 960-3036; www.bigideatheatre.com. Through August 31.
Rated 5.0

The object lesson from Martin McDonagh’s wild, violent and incredibly funny play is this: Don’t ever kill a terrorist’s cat. Or, put more broadly: An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.

The Lieutenant of Inishmore, currently in production at Big Idea Theatre under the direction of Brian Harrower, is set in Ireland during the “troubles,” and features the outstanding Justin Muñoz as Padraic, the lieutenant of the title. He’s a self-appointed officer in a splinter of a splinter group from the Irish Republican Army, on a mission to bomb and torture the world until Ireland’s free.

And his cat, Wee Thomas, died. Or was murdered.

In either case, Padraic will go on a rampage, and his drunken father (Scott Divine) and the neighbor, who may or may not have run over the cat on a bicycle (Benjamin T. Ismail), are determined to fool him into thinking the cat still lives, even if they must use shoe polish to a dye an orange tabby.

Meanwhile, a strike force of assassins (Ryan Snyder, Matthew Donaldson and Eric Stine Alley) are out to murder Padraic, and a lovelorn, young neighbor girl (Katrina Muñoz) so wants to join him in his cause, that she’s blinded most of Inishmore’s cattle with a BB gun.

The Irish accents are spot-on, from leading players to supporting actors (including Jouni Kirjola, who performs upside down for his brief role as a torture victim). One can only imagine what awful items went into producing the properties, some of which consist of internal organs and puddles of blood.

Yes, this show is bloody as only Big Idea can do bloody—and can it ever do bloody! It’s also chock-full of curse words and stupidity. In short, it’s just like the real world, only funnier—and definitely not for kids. It’s also a powerful statement about the futility of violence as a response to violence, a sort of fable that illustrates oh-so-clearly why terrorism ultimately fails: It leaves so much trauma, that no one comes out unscathed.

Unless, of course, you’ve got the nine lives of a cat.