In June of 2006 I saw the Broadway production of "The Lieutenant of Inishmore." The eight character play has more blood and gore overwhelming the stage than any play I have ever seen. After the intermission the stage was littered with dismembered body parts and blood splashed over everything.
In this black comedy the words black (more violent) and comedy (more farcical) take on new meanings. The dialogue in the play, funny and inane, is right out of the theater of the absurd or theater of the ridiculous.
The characters in this play are dimwits, off-the-wall nutcases. Donny, for example admits to trampling on his Mam. His son Padriac, the self-anointed lieutenant, a certifiable homicidal psychopath who cares more for his cat Wee Thomas than he does any human being, reminds his father "There's no statute of limitations on Mam trampling." The play is full of surprises, shocks to the system, ironic twists, and over the edge humor. The ending is a master stroke.
Padriac has to form a terrorist splinter group because he is too violent for the IRA. He is betrayed by his former terrorist brethren who act like the Three Stooges. One girl, Mairead, entertains herself by shooting out the eyes of cows.
In a black comedy piece in Scene Two Padriac is torturing a man he has trussed up and has hanging upside down by his feet. Listen to him and other characters as they are about to be tortured or killed and you hear stubbornness, and a stupid bent to infuriate and aggravate their executioner/torturer.
The two characters who open the play, Donny and Davey, are two clowns performing a vaudeville act. They are incredibly dumb, and their dialogue is full of non sequiturs.
McDonagh has said that making audiences uncomfortable, getting them wriggling in their seats is his goal, and he achieves it here. Squirming in their seats would be more like it. The audience is saying, "Oh, no he wouldn't push the envelope that far, gross out that much, and that's exactly what he does.
See my Amazon reviews of "The Cripple of Inishmaan," "The Beauty Queen of Leenane," and "In Bruges" for my comments on McDonagh's blood and gore, his violence, black humor, irony, and links to the theater of the absurd.