I am reeling from the impact of this play slamming full force into my stagnant, unaware self.
When I opened this play in the middle of class because I was bored, I was expecting a quick read to keep myself entertained but goodness, what a mistake that was! Not only was I entertained, I was immediately absorbed into the play’s world and kept on the edge of my seat until I reached the end. I didn’t stop reading—not even when I was supposed to listen to the lecture (or at least pretend to)—and I had to subtly cry because crying in the middle of a non-emotional lecture would surely give me away.
The Pillowman begins with an interrogation scene that has a few funny moments, but soon explodes into action and violence. Katurian, a short story writer, has no idea why he’s being interrogated by two authority figures. They talk about the macabre content in the stories he has written, the similarly macabre murders of children around the area, and pretty much accuses him as the murderer. I won’t spoil anything because the play is a quick read, and because I believe that one must really read this without knowing much about the content in order to feel its disturbing effect. Though, I will write that the twist near the end threw me for a loop. It may be clichéd to some, but I thought that it was brilliant.
The characters are realistic and interesting—an important point that becomes even more important when combined with the plot and how it’s executed. Together, they emphasise on how stories are powerful and that they are a part of people’s lives whether one thinks of themselves as a writer, poet, etc. or not. In fact, the short stories included in this play remind me of a more gruesome version of the original Grimm’s fairy tales and we all know how deeply intertwined fairy tales are in our cultures.
However, there is a downside that irked me in The Pillowman, and I feel that it is the excessive use of foul language. I’m not saying that Martin McDonagh shouldn’t have included them in the first place, but rather that it felt like they were in the way of the character’s emotions at times, especially when there’s two or more expletive in the same line. Of course, this is only my opinion and it doesn’t really affect the effect I got from this play.
With all the above considered, The Pillowman is certainly a play that one must read, particularly for those who like black comedy and/or the crime, mystery, thriller, and suspense genres!