The Cripple Of Inishmaan
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by Jeff Thomas

Santa Rosa’s Actors’ Theatre presents The Cripple Of Inishmaan, a look back at Irish life on the relatively isolated Aran Islands in 1934. Written by Irish playwright Martin McDonagh, this drama is a roller coaster ride of laughter laced with pain.

The pain comes from the way everyone treats each other in the small community of Inishmaan. In the forefront is Cripple Billy. No one in the small community, including the two aunts that love and take care of this young man crippled from birth, call him just Billy, as he would like to be called. He is Cripple Billy and with the unsubtle jab of this name came other jabs to constantly remind him of his weaknesses and deformities. But Billy is not alone in this treatment. Everyone in Inishmaan treats everyone else with the same negativism. Though others are not physically crippled, they all have weaknesses that everyone picks at. It’s a form of survival in that small isolated community and it does translate to a particular Irish humor that entertains the audience. We are, after all, human and are used to laughing at the weaknesses of others.

McDonagh’s talent is in developing this negativism into a kind of tough love that doesn’t necessarily win or overcome anything. It merely gives the characters living in Inishmann just enough hope to endure.

The almost all Irish cast is excellent and their high-energy performances keep the laughter flowing throughout the production. Keep a particular eye on the two aunts played by Phoebe Moyer and Coralie Persse, Cripple Billy (Aidan O’Reilly) and Helen (Laura Odeh) – acting doesn’t get any better than this.

For tickets or more information call (707) 523-4185 or visit their web site at

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