Saturday, July 16, 2011

Infinite Abyss Productions: The Pillowman (3 reviews)

Infinite Abyss Productions opened its production of Martin McDonagh's The Pillowman at Empire Stage on July 9, 2011
With echoes of Stoppard, Kafka, and the Brothers Grimm, The Pillowman centers on a writer in an unnamed totalitarian state who is being interrogated about the gruesome content of his short stories and their similarities to a series of child murders. "Comedies don't come any blacker than 'The Pillowman,'" stated the New York Times. "Even those familiar with this British dramatist's [McDonagh's] blithe way with murder, mutilation and dismemberment may be jolted by the events described and simulated so picturesquely...(Advisory note: severed fingers and heads, electric drills, barbed wire and premature burial all figure prominently.)"
Jeffery D. Holmes directed a cast that featured Scott Dougls Wilson, Jim Gibbons, Todd Bruno, and Dominick Daniel.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
A success in London and on Broadway, The Pillowman has already been produced twice in South Florida, first in a Carbonell Award-winning production at GableStage, then by Ground Up & Rising. Now a small, young Broward-based company, Infinite Abyss, is doing its own intense production of McDonagh’s play...
Director Jeffrey D. Holmes has opted for a simpler version of what can be an eight-character play. At GableStage, for example, four performers acted out scenes from the arrested writer’s stories. Here, Holmes sticks with the four key characters...  Though Holmes’ approach is different, the power of The Pillowman isn’t diminished. McDonagh’s mixture of humor and horror, a hallmark of his work, is vividly communicated by the actors.
Wilson’s Katurian is at first both nervous and outraged at being dragged in for questioning. Then, as the reality of his situation becomes more clear, the actor blends in fear, desperation, panic, resoluteness and more. Bruno is initially a little too playful as Michal, but he achieves a couple of moments that are among the play’s most devastating.
Gibbons’ soft-spoken, smiling Tupolski seems reasonable enough (though he’s every bit as dangerous as his partner), and the actor is a cut above everyone else in navigating McDonagh’s stinging humor. For most of the play, Daniel’s Ariel is a violent bully. And yet, as with Katurian and Michal, the storytelling playwright makes it clear that once upon a time, these messed-up grownups were children whose lives were more nightmare than fairy tale.
Ron Levitt wrote for ENV Magazine:
...this production – produced by Infinite Abyss’s Erynn  Dalton and directed by Jeff Holmes  – is not a copy-cat  fabrication. Though leaner and sometimes meaner than the GableStage production and its earlier shots in London and on Broadway,  it very much stands on its own, with a special nod to several of the actors.
Although the entire quartet of actors tackle this difficult, wordy and action-prone play, there are two standouts: the powerful  Scott Douglas Wilson... and Todd Bruno...
These two – along with a low-key performance by Jim Gibbons and the volatile role played by Dominick Daniel... make for a highly rated ensemble in this familiar play.
Warren Day reviewed for The Florida Agenda:
Not all unique plays make for a good evening in the theater, and certainly most good evenings are with plays that aren’t all that unique. Yet a production company in South Florida, known as Infinite Abyss, obviously believes there’s no reason you can’t have both, as they are once again proving with their latest offering, the quite funny and very thought-provoking, The Pillowman.’s been given a superb production by the director Jeffrey D. Holmes, the producer Erynn Dalton and as fine an ensemble cast as you’ll see in Florida. Holmes has an uncanny ability to get outstanding performances from his actors, particularly his lead, as is the case here with the highly talented Scott Douglas Wilson as Katurian K. Katurian.
Infinite Abyss Productions presents The Pillowman at Empire Stage through July 30, 2011.


  1. Pales in comparison to the first South Florida production of this show a few years back. Makes you think why'd they do it again so early without the perfect cast for it.

    Honorable go at it though I suppose. It's hard to ruin such an amazing script.

  2. What a catty, snobby remark! I've seen the Infinite Abyss production and not only was the cast stellar, but also highly UNdeserving of such a scathing (and anonymous) comment ... the show has been done hundreds of times since it originally opened, and this production is more than worthy of the critical praise it has received!