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Pillowman [Paperback]

Martin Mcdonagh

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Book Description

Nov. 25 2003
While still in his twenties, the Anglo-Irish playwright Martin McDonagh has filled houses in New York and London, been showered with the theatre world's most prestigious accolades, and electrified audiences with his cunningly crafted and outrageous tragicomedies. With echoes of Stoppard and Kafka, his latest drama, The Pillowman, is the viciously funny and seriously disturbing tale of a writer in an unnamed totalitarian state who is interrogated about the gruesome content of his short stories and their similarities to a number of child-murders occurring in his town.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Faber And Faber Ltd. (Nov. 25 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571220320
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571220328
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 14.1 x 0.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 100 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #406,228 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description



"McDonagh is destined to be one of the theatrical luminaries of the 21st century." --The New Republic

"Energizing . . . a blindingly bright black comedy." --Ben Brantley, The New York Times

"A complex tale about life and art, about fact and illusion, about politics, society, cruelty and creativity." --Alastair Macaulay, Financial Times

"Martin McDonagh, master of bad taste in black comedy’s cause and persistent enfant terrible, leaps towards maturity in this dazzling, disquieting nightmare of a play which makes up its own Grimm fairy-tales." --Nicholas de Jongh, Evening Standard

"A play of extraordinary power and stunning theatrical bravura." --Michael Coveney, Daily Mail

About the Author

Martin McDonagh is the author of six plays, including the Tony Award-nominated The Beauty Queen of Leenane.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  58 reviews
35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lay Your Head Upon This Pillow April 7 2005
By David Robson - Published on Amazon.com
Having been a fan of McDonagh's Leenane Trilogy, I couldn't wait to read his latest. I'd read some glowing reviews from the British premiere but was skeptical. Then, I read the play. While the set up seems from a police procedural, the twists, turns, and utter horror in the play are visceral and compelling.

A writer is being interrogated because the stories he writes often allude to the murder of children in hideous ways; children in the totalitarian state of his residence are now being killed in ways like the ones mentioned in the writer's work. Add to this the writer's mentally impaired brother and occasional acting out of his stories and you have complete, satisfying, darkly humorous and utterly theatrical play. The Pillowman is a beautifully ugly depiction of the the necessity of stories--to pain us, to heal us. It's quite a page-turner!
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow June 16 2005
By Erika Sandberg - Published on Amazon.com
During my recent visit to London I was privileged to attend a show every one of my thirteen days there. After seeing everything from Taming of the Shrew to Pinter's Betrayal, the only show that made me say, "Wow that was incredible", was McDonough's The Pillowman. I find my self uttering the same phrase after reading a previous review of this amazing play. It's such a shame that people get so caught up in the superficial aspect of art that they fail to understand what makes it art in the first place. Shocking, twisted, dark as it may be, when it comes down to it, The Pillowman has nothing to do with murdering children. Any person with some sense can understand that it's about an artist's responsibility for their work and their protection under freedom of speech laws. Can an artist be held accountable for the feelings their work provokes? What if someone acts on those feelings...who is responsible then? I find it ironic that the very point the playwright is trying to get across mirrors the persecution he is facing now. To everyone... see this play. If you are unable to attend a production that's a shame because it's amazing live, but do the next best thing and pick up the script. It will change you.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It Really Must Be Seen... June 6 2007
By J. Brown - Published on Amazon.com
I'm usually one of those irritating people who insist on reading the text before seeing the play or movie, but I'll admit that this was not the case. In fact, quite the opposite. I had seen the production at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago with it's incredible cast, fell in love with the piece, and consequently had to buy the play.

Martin McDonagh, a prized playwright with a biting and controversial wit for the stage, has absolutely nailed a generation piece with his play, The Pillowman. As anyone in theatre will tell you, it's all about the journey. Katurian has had an interesting journey, and his circumstances proved to be even more interesting at the beginning of the play. The cold, desolate, and unforgiving world he's a part of accuses him of a heinous crime, leaving him thinking it was merely his stories he wrote that encouraged other acts of crime...

He and his brother selectively retell their story through Katurian's stories that act as tiny plays-within-the-play and give the reader / audience member a clearer understanding of the context.

Kind of a side-note, if I may. I was fortunate enough to see the production at the Steppenwolf in Chicago because of my University's Theatre Department that paid for it, and there were about 120 of us that were in the audience that night. The Steppenwolf has a talk-back with the actors that we were very much looking forward to, ready to pick the minds of the actors who were fortunate enough to perform this biting piece.

One of the first questions that the artistic director was faced with from an older audience member was why people were laughing during the show... This sentiment was shared with about 3/4 of the talk-back audience of around 200 or so in the theatre, and the artistic director kind of got the 'deer-in-headlights' look about him as he explained a little about the piece to the patrons. In response to their question, one of our students approached it in the sense of irony and absurdity that ran rampant throughout the text. It's funny because it's so far-fetched, but at the same time so relevant to our generation and society that it was like looking at certain portions of ourselves on stage when looking at the characters.

Another little gem, one of the actors told us in the talk-back, was that one of the original actors playing Katurian had asked during rehearsals if there were more stories where these came from... Martin McDonagh was in the house that evening and told him simply, yes. The next day he brought in all over 200 stories that he based this play on and set them on the stage. Some were typed, some were hand-written, some on napkins and scraps of paper... but they were all there.

The stories are real, the journey that the audience and reader alike experience is real, and in the theatre, you couldn't ask for anything better.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One of the better plays I've read... Feb. 11 2008
By DaBoss - Published on Amazon.com
The Pillowman (2003) - Martin McDonagh

I will start off by stating that I tend to not like reading plays. However, once in a while, I will come across one that reads well as literature. The Pillowman is definitely one of them. The dialogue is exciting, the plot is most definitely a page-turner, and it is quite funny (in a sadistic way, but more credit to McDonagh for pulling it off). What Mr. McDonagh deals with as his theme is the importance and power and necessity of telling a story, and he presents it in a multi-layered way that is entertaining and clever. Not only is there manipulation of time, but there is also the interesting notion that we are listening to a story of a bunch of characters that like to tell and listen to stories. The overall feel is definitely a little creepy.

McDonagh has a rather unique voice, and although he does not create amazing personalities, his style is entertaining enough on its own; the stylized dialogue is semi-poetic and is interesting to listen to. Let's just say there's a smooth flow to it.

This play is extremely dark and sadistic, yet hilarious in multiple parts (and generally funny thoughout). Balancing this tightrope act is not easy, but I would definitely say McDonagh does a good job of it. This play actually had me laughing out loud at points, which is relatively rare for me when reading plays. For example, even reading translations of Moliere almost never make me laugh, and he is considered arguably the greatest humorist we've ever had. Thus, overall, The Pillowman was a fun read (nothing extremely profound for me), and I would definitely reccomend it.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Looks can be deceiving March 4 2006
By K. P. Nash - Published on Amazon.com
The title of this play makes it seem harmless enough, and to some I'm sure it was very good. However, that being said, if you are not a gore/horror fan, then you might not enjoy this play very much. At least 3 or 4 times throughout the play, a short story is told describing a gruesome murder, and a lot of descriptive adjectives are used to give the reader a mental picture of what is happening. Overall, the story is very good; the plot was well constructed, and I think the story was told in a very unique way. BUT you might want to give it a second thought if you are prone to squeamishness, throwing up, or nightmares.

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