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Dark comedy 'Lieutenant of Inishmore' at Corn Stock

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Tim Wyman wants to make sure it is known up front: No animals were harmed in the making of “The Lieutenant of Inishmore,” a dark comedy he directed that opens Friday at Corn Stock Theatre’s Winter Playhouse in Upper Bradley Park.

The two cats that are killed in the play, according to the script by Martin McDonagh, are stage props. “Only the cat that appears at the very end is a real animal and no harm comes to it,” Wyman said.

You see, the killing of a cat is very central to “The Lieutenant of Inishmore.” It is the reason a mad Irishman named Padraic is lured back to his home and why he goes after the other Irish rebels who were responsible. He loves his cat, Wee Thomas, and Padraic, who feels no remorse while torturing other humans for nothing more than insulting him, must revenge the harm that befalls the animal.

There is very little in the play about any actual Irish uprisings. The play is set in the early 1990s, just as the Northern Ireland peace process is taking hold. Who needs an uprising when you have a madman who loves his cat above all else?

Well, that is until the young lass Mairaid enters the picture and turns Padraic’s head. Before he shoots her, of course.

Wyman said has wanted to direct “The Lieutenant of Inishmore” since he first read it 10 or more years ago. He’d never seen it staged before, which he said is an advantage when staging it in a space such as Corn Stock’s Winter Playhouse. “I like to direct plays I haven’t seen because then I’m not bound to the ideas or interpretations of other directors. I don’t want to copy somebody; there’s no art form in that,” he said.

What appealed most to him about this play was the humorous writing as well as the Irish brogue the author wrote it in. “I fell in love with the language. When it is done right, it is a wonderful accent,” he said.

His cast of eight, he acknowledged, “had the most God-awful Irish accents I ever heard in my life when we started rehearsals. But they have been working very hard and they have gotten progressively better with each rehearsal.”

The acting, he added, is very good throughout. “This is the kind of play where the script carries the show. To have good actors makes it that much better,” he said.

Cody Cornwell, who made his Corn Stock debut earlier this season in “The Shape of Things,” portrays Padraic, the self-declared Lieutenant of Inishmore. He must bring a touch of madman with a quick trigger “and he does that very well,” Wyman said.

Emma Luttrell portrays Mairaid, herself with a touch of madness.

Others are Jeff Hopkins as Donny, Frank Drew as Davey, Nyk Sutter as James, John Carroll as Christy, Jerrod Barth as Brendan and Andrew Rhodenbaugh as Joey.

Despite the humor, there is a lot of blood in this play. “But there is nothing more than you can see on television on any Friday night. Of course, if you’re queasy I wouldn’t sit in the front row,” Wyman said. “It’s not for children, either, I should add.”

Because of the blood and the torture, Wyman had been turned down in his earlier attempts to direct “The Lieutenant of Inishmore.” One scene in particular, in which a man is being tortured while hanging upside down, was troublesome mostly in how it would be staged. “We worked around that, like you do with any play. When there are staging limitations you do something else that works. That’s what we did in that scene,” he said.

This show includes gunfire, as well, but Wyman said smaller caliber blanks are used to keep the noise down.

“There are a ton of surprises in this play, throughout the show really. It really is a funny piece,” he said.

“The Lieutenant of Inishmore” runs Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., then again Thursday through Saturday, March 26-28, at 7:30 p.m. and closes with a 2:30 p.m. matinee on Sunday, March 29.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students. They can be ordered online at or by calling 676-2196. 


About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).