In 1934, on a small island off the West coast of Ireland, the arrival of a Hollywood film crew (who we never see) on a neighbouring island gives local youngsters the chance to escape the island and head for the USA.
Local disabled orphan, Billy, able and bright, and in love with local girl Helen, is cared for by two aged aunts. He is derided by the locals (and his aunts) as no-one understands him. His aunts protect him from discovering his parents tried to drown him at birth. Billy, desperate to audition, to break away from the bitter tedium of his daily life, persuades a local fisherman to take him to the neighbouring island by telling him he is dying of TB.
Billy is cast in the film and goes to the USA. He discovers Hollywood alone is no better than Inishmaan alone so returns home. Helen finally agrees to go out with him. Ironically, at the end of the tale, he ‘gets the girl’ only to discover he really does have TB.
The characters are funny, alcoholic, vicious, bigoted and cruel, and all crippled – one physically, others emotionally. This bleakly comic tale, with vivid images of all aspects of human life, where truth is uncovered gradually, successfully plucks at your heartstrings with deep, dark and powerful humour.
The Cripple of Inishmaan was performed at The Mill Arts Centre, Banbury 11-14 July 2018. Directed by Chrissie Garrett.
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Production photographs, courtesy & copyright Mike Watling