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Theatergoers Come to the Defense of 'Cripple of Inishmaan'

November 07, 1998

I strongly disagree with Jan Breslauer's review of "The Cripple of Inishmaan" (" 'Inishmaan,' on Closer Inspection," Oct. 30).

I attended the opening night and found the play funny, intelligent, charming and entertaining. To attack Martin McDonagh, one of the most gifted playwrights of our time, for (among other things) writing a less than perfect play does a major disservice to the Los Angeles theatergoing community. The production is terrific. The performances are splendid. Max Wright is especially wonderful, and the cast received a standing ovation.

It may not be perfect . . . but it is still far better than 99% of the theater that is out there, and people should be encouraged to go and see work of this caliber.

DINAH MANOFF

Woodland Hills

While I agree with Breslauer that "The Cripple of Inishmaan" has weaknesses, she is wrong to blame them on a "faux-Irish veneer" resulting from McDonagh's being "London born and bred."

After all, John Millington Synge, whom she seems to approve of, was born near Dublin, far from the west coast of Ireland that he wrote about, to well-off Anglo-Irish Protestants. A well-educated man who spoke four languages, he spent much of his adult life in Paris. Like McDonagh, he based his plays on brief visits to western Ireland, plus an astute literary imagination.

Both playwrights are dealing with myth, not reality. Both created a dialogue that bears about as much resemblance to the actual speech of Galway as Shakespeare's blank verse did to the speech of ordinary Elizabethans.

RICHARD HORNBY

Pasadena

The Los Angeles Times is here to correct the impression created by England's Royal National Theatre, by the Royal Court Theatre, by the Druid Theatre that we are dealing with a truly gifted new writer.

I saw "Cripple" two days ago, and the humor and pathos of his characters still resonate. McDonagh has done that most difficult of tasks, taking the darkest and bleakest landscape of the human condition and bringing it alive with humor and originality. Kudos to the Geffen Playhouse for bringing his work to Los Angeles and for mounting a stunningly directed production.

PAULA HOLT

President, Tiffany Theaters

West Hollywood

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