The playreading of The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh marks my first visit to Square Chapel Arts Centre in Halifax. The beautiful venue offers a vibrant, intimate and welcoming space. The event was raised in order to fundraise for the important theatre, which offers a wide range of arts events for the local community.
And what a treat.
The reading is admittedly not a polished well-rehearsed piece but the acting is spotless throughout despite this. The cast read the script from their seats, yet we are totally immersed in the action and gripped by the dark plot and moments of trademark McDonagh humour.
The Pillowman follows a writer who is being investigated for three child murders, all of which resemble gruesome plotlines from his short stories. Reece Dinsdale effortlessly leads as Katurian, giving us a totally likeable character to root for. The role of the good cop Tupolski is played with a hilariously dry delivery from Ian Puleston-Davies. His performance is particularly polished, not letting a moment of humour slip from his grasp. It’s as though he’s been in a rehearsal room for weeks – a thoroughly professional and smooth delivery of a particularly difficult part to play.
Mark Charnock plays the role of Michal, Katurian’s brother who is ‘slow to get things’. Charnock plays the part sensitively, though in one long loud tone. This would be fine if the cast weren’t unnecessarily miced up, meaning Charnock’s scenes are at points a little deafening.
The cast is completed by Steve Evets as Ariel and Karen Henthorn narrating the stage directions. Everyone contributes spotlessly to a wonderfully unusual and enjoyable evening.
McDonagh plays are so hard to get right. It requires sensitivity, poignancy, comic timing and cast rapport. The cast of this reading are sublime and provide a fantastic evening for everyone. I only wish we could see them all perform the play in full set and costume someday soon!
It looks like this event is a one-off, but it does demonstrate the incredibly unique and interesting events going on at Square Chapel. Take a look at their website to see which events you like the look of! I’ll most definitely be returning.