‘Hangmen’ is the best new play on Broadway

You’re completely wracked with guilt at “Hangmen” — from laughing so exhausting at the many, many inappropriate jokes. A crude sight gag close to the finish had me virtually dry heaving. 

That nonstop naughtiness is what makes Martin McDonagh’s killer satire the best new play on Broadway by a inexperienced mile. 

Theater review

Two and a half hours, with one intermission. At the Golden Theatre, 252 West forty fifth Street.

The Brit’s comedy, which opened Thursday evening at the Golden Theatre, is a heaping scoop of jaw-droppers and taboos — albeit with a classy takeaway about the justice system — that’ll make wimps clutch their pearls for pricey life. The remainder of us can’t assist however chuckle at the macabre insanity.

Take the uncommon important characters: an executioner and a maybe-murderer. 

The present is set in 1965 England, simply as hanging (their most popular methodology of capital punishment) has been outlawed. A year after the closing offing, Harry (David Threlfall) — a well-known hangman — now owns a pub in the north and is a neighborhood celeb for silly, previous drunks. They flock to see the man, who dryly estimates he supervised 233 killings, like he’s Lady Gaga at Joanne’s Trattoria. 

Says one doddering previous idiot: “I don’t even like the pints here, but they’ve got a hangman.” 

Drunks flock to the local pub to see the hangman in the flesh.
Drunks flock to the native pub to see the hangman (David Threlfall, left) in the flesh.
Joan Marcus

That rude, presumably immoral premise shakes you awake. If an American scholar wrote a play like this one about the dying penalty at an Ivy League faculty, they’d in all probability get expelled after which banned from Twitter. But McDonagh is the Flying Wallendas of playwrights: he’s hooked on danger, irresistibly assured, and most of the time, reaches the finish of an impossibly excessive tightrope victoriously.

His “Hangmen” takes place throughout an odd anniversary for Harry. A year earlier, he executed a person who was convicted of killing a younger girl, nevertheless, the proof was scant and the prisoner maintained his innocence until dying. 

On this inauspicious day, a gangly chap from London named Mooney (Allen) arrives in the pub, saddles as much as the bar and creepily chats up Harry’s 15-year-old daughter, Shirley (Gaby French). Mooney is immediately suspicious however, to McDonagh and Allen’s credit score, we kinda like him regardless of our misgivings.

Simultaneously, we marvel who this thriller man is, did the useless inmate do what he’s accused of and, a lot later on, if a personality we’ve simply met is alive or useless. 

Ian Dickinson's surprising set is Broadway's best of the year.
Ian Dickinson’s stunning set is Broadway’s best of the year.
Joan Marcus

As twisty as McDonagh’s script is Ian Dickinson’s phenomenal set — the best this year of any present, play or musical — that’s a veritable Russian doll of scenic surprises.

Playing the barflys is an ensemble of stars. While Allen, I’m positive, needs to flee the reminiscence of “Game of Thrones,” he brilliantly brings the similar sniveling high quality of Theon Greyjoy to Mooney however tacks on some cosmopolitan swagger — a Patrick Bateman with an accent. Threlfall, in the meantime, is the kind of huge character character actor a cartoonist couldn’t dream up. He’s burly and hysterical.

Tracie Bennett, as Harry’s beleaguered spouse, might have been transported from “Fawlty Towers” along with her ’60s character and comedian chops, and French handles the troublesome job of taking part in an imperiled teenager with the excellent quantity of innocence.  

McDonagh followers shall be delighted. The playwright provides his executioner and unhinged pervy weirdo the similar sympathetic, humorous therapy he gave a Northern Irish terrorist in the additionally teriffic “The Lieutenant of Inishmore.” In reality, this is his most interesting play since that one, 16 years in the past. 

His “Hangmen” kills.

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