It's been a long, long time since I've watched anything at the Victoria Theatre. We found ourselves there yesterday and the interior was unrecognisable. It all looked a bit rundown the last time I sat in the stalls. Now it's as plush as The Esplanade.
We were there for Pangdemonium's production of Martin McDonagh's The Pillowman. I had high expectations and wasn't let down. The play was brilliantly crafted and the players performed with an equivalent brilliance. Each time I see Adrian Pang on stage he seems to get better. I mean he's always top notch but the range he's capable of just seems limitless. In broad terms, I can't imagine a West End or Broadway production could have been any better than what we saw last night.
The only slight reservation I had about the piece was the length. It ran at almost three hours by my watch. The interval came after a full two hours, though I must say the first act was so gripping that it really didn't seem that long. But I thought the last half hour felt a few minutes over-stretched. McDonagh seems to me to milk the self-referencing a bit further than needed. The stuff about 'fashionable down-beat endings' seemed more than a little superficial after the raw power of the material dealing with child abuse.
I suppose that's where the uncertainty might come in as to whether this is truly great drama, for all its many virtues. Does the play as a whole convince that it's doing justice to its awful material? It takes crazy tactless risks - and I think that's part of the reason it succeeds.