Set on a remote island off the west coast of Ireland in 1934, The Cripple of Inishmaan is a strange comic tale in the great tradition of Irish storytelling. Inishmaan is an isolated community full of gossip and secrets at the center of which is Billy, an unloved cripple boy whose hopes extend beyond his boring life. When the town hears that a Hollywood producer is making a film on the neighboring island, Cripple Billy decides to seek his fortune, and all in the town watch ravenously to see what will happen. The play combines dark comedy and profound sadness to create a reality at once removed and close to heart that is as bizarrely funny as it is touching.
Martin McDonagh (playwright) is something of a marvel in contemporary theater. Despite dropping out of school at age sixteen, he has achieved remarkable success as theatres newest prodigal prodigy. He wrote his first success, The Beauty Queen of Leenane in eight days and by age twenty-seven had four plays showing simultaneously in London. A native of London, all of his plays have been set in the west of Ireland, where he has spent summers but never lived. In The Cripple of Inishmaan, he seamlessly mixes uncanny humor with brutish reality while exploring the strange atmosphere of the mystic and remote island community.
Kate – mid-thirties, unmarried, co-owner with her sister Eileen of the town’s convenience store. Aunt and foster parent to Billy. Talks to stones in order to overcome moments of desperation.
Eileen – mid-thirties, co-owner with her sister Kate of the town’s convenience store. Aunt and foster parent to Billy. Keeps her sister and the convenience store together.
Johnnypateenmike – mid-thirties. Town gossip. Probably unemployed. Lives with his old mother, who is also a drunk.
Billy – sixteen/seventeen. An orphan and cripple; his parents drowned whilst escaping to America. Billy lives with his two aunts Kate and Eileen. Billy likes to sit and watch cows. He dreams of making a new life for himself in America.
Bartley – sixteen/seventeen. Helen’s brother. A little naïve, and very dependent on his sister, despite the regular spouts of physical abuse she directs at him. Bartley likes candy, especially the type from America, and wants a telescope.
Helen – seventeen/eighteen. Pretty, but cocky. Helen likes to throw the eggs she is charged with delivering, mostly at her brother, the priest and passers by.
Babbybobby – early thirties. Handsome and muscular. Bobby is a fisherman. His wife died a few years ago from TB.
Doctor – Early forties. The most important man in town, but no one listens to him.
Mammy – seventies/eighties. Johnnypateenmike’s mother. An alcoholic, Mammy has a sharp tongue, as well as even less of a sense of propriety than the other characters.