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.