Limping toward glory

Martin McDonaugh’s play brings its brogues and big dreams to Valley. 

By Jazmine Sanchez, Staff Writer

A Tony-nominated “Cripple” lumbers onto the Horseshoe Theatre stage with a group of villagers blinded by the illusion of fame.

“The Cripple of Inishmaan,” a dark satire, is based on the making on “The Man of Aran,” a fictional documentary by Hollywood filmmaker Robert J. Flahery. The play follows villagers on an Irish island called Inishmaan whose lives are full of poverty, hardship and gossip. A crew arrives to film the documentary on the next island over, and deluded that they might become famous, the islanders scramble to be cast in the film. “Cripple” Billy Claven is looked down on, due to physical handicaps, but believes there is more to himself than the small-minded townspeople give him credit for. In their struggle to climb over each other, the villagers misrepresent one another through their lies, gossip, and actions.

Martin McDonagh is a prolific and popular writer whose black humor has not only graced the stage, but films such as “In Bruges” and earned him an Academy Award for his short, “Six Shooter.” Director Cathy Pyles felt it was time for Valley College to taste his dark Irish irony.

“This was my first choice,” among his works, Pyles tells us. “I read all of McDonagh’s plays this summer and I chose this one because it was the most sort-of friendly, apart from his darkness, and because he writes his plays with justified violence but with a dark twist. I also wanted the challenge of working on a play that had a dialect.”

The cast is made up of nine Valley students, including 21-year-old Valley College student Joshua Esquivel,who plays Cripple Billy. Billy finds excitement in books and gazing at cows; his sensitive heart sets him apart from him cruel neighbors. According to Pyles, Esquivel (see Esquivel’s separate feature in Campus Style) delivered “a sense of honesty and sweetness” in his audition.

When he was cast, Esquivel said his “first priority became to master the Irish accent. This is my first play ever and after landing the main role I’m very blessed for that.”

Another character, JohnnyPateenMike, makes it his objective to find out everything that is going on throughout the town and deliver it to those who want to listen. The 22-year-old theater major Nick Goodreau takes on the comic, yet bitter, man.

“Nick Goodreau has so much language in the play,” says Pyles, explaining in return for news in the form of gossip, JohnnyPateenMike expects payment in one form or another. “He’s consistently having to spew out long speeches of information.”

“The hardest part was really trying to make him super-pushy because I’m not that way,” says Goodreau, who has worked with Pyles previously. “There were moments where I wanted to take a more sentimental approach to the character.”

“The Cripple of Inishmaan” will run Oct. 22-25 at 8 p.m. with Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. in the horseshoe theater. Tickets can be purchased at Brownpapertickets.com.

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