Director Lysander Abadia. COURTESY.
Director Lysander Abadia is enjoying a serendipitous turn of events, as his production (with Poor Richard’s Players) of Martin McDonagh’s chilling 2003 play The Pillowman opens at Las Vegas Little Theatre a week after McDonagh’s sophomore film, Seven Psychopaths, hits theaters. Lucky Vegas theatergoers get to see an early example of McDonagh’s story-within-a-story approach, as envisioned for the stage by one of the city’s busiest movie-and-television actors.
The coincidence: “I didn’t know [Seven Psychopaths] had that kind of element, too. I knew some of the plot, but I didn’t realize he was also doing more of those multi-dimensional storytelling ideas. That’s one of the things we really bring out in Pillowman, is that he switches between the “real scenes,” with the interrogation and the prisoners in the cell, to the more fantasy scenes where Katurian, the main character, steps out and tells his stories. We play with that back and forth, where we play it naturalistically, theater-wise, then switch to fantasy using production, sound and actors to make it more fairy-tale like.”
The effect: “We were going to produce The Pillowman in January at Onyx, then there was a change in management so our reservation didn’t work out. Then LVLT was generous enough to include us in their Black Box season, to give us a venue to produce the show. Then Seven Psychopaths was coming out, and I was like, ‘That’s nicely perfect!’
“A lot of it is using violence and using a twisted point of view on the world as a way to comment on how we personally think and perceive society, and pushing some aspects of our lives to the extreme so that maybe we can take a look at our own lives in a different way. Martin McDonagh is really good at doing that — without us really knowing it.”
The challenge: “One of the things that Poor Richard’s Players strives to achieve is … our motto is: ‘Challenge the artist, challenge the audience.’ We look for pieces that fulfill both of those things. We felt like the challenge of this piece was to honor the text in that balance between reality and fantasy. The reality of a brutal police interrogation, a child murderer and a police investigation, juxtaposed with these children’s fairy-tale-like stories that are also violent and gruesome in nature. I talked with our artists both on the stage and off the stage, our designers and everyone involved: Make this piece a reality, and our audience will be challenged. The realities of the world may not be as pretty and idyllic as we hope.”
The Pillowman Thursday-Saturday, 8 p.m., Sunday, 2 p.m., Oct. 19-Nov. 4; Fischer Black Box at Las Vegas Little Theatre, 3920 Schiff Drive, 362-7996 and www.lvlt.org, $10-$15.