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‘Pillowman’ play goes dark with twisted plot, humor

Shelby Nelson
Staff Writer

A twisted plot line and a smidgeon of humor are just some of the reasons why senior theater arts major Daniel Bride chose “The Pillowman” for his directing thesis.

Tuesday night’s dress rehearsal of “The Pillowman” unveiled molestation, abuse and murder, yet it still cleverly maintained a humorous approach to how the whole story unfolded.

“What’s not to love about the play?” Bride said. “It’s a black comedy with a twist; there are a lot of funny parts.”

“The Pillowman” is an original play from Irish playwright, filmmaker and screenwriter Martin McDonagh.

It is far from the ordinary plays that are written for theater—in short, it uncovers the life of a man who deals with an unfortunate life.

The main character, Katurian, is a writer whose stories are everything to him.

Katurian’s stories are products of his ill-fated life—a pair of abusive parents, a mentally-disabled brother, and the unexpected consequences of his stories.

When three dead children are recently murdered the same way Katurian’s stories pan out, he becomes the prime suspect.

“He’s a guy who got caught in a bad situation,” said Jordan Randall, the sophomore theater arts and business major who plays Katurian. “He just had really bad luck and had to try and handle it at the same time.”

Through an exhausting investigation, each character has their own significant involvement in keeping the audience guessing as to what is coming next.

“I love anything that challenges an audience,” Randall said. “I want to get a reaction whether it is making them happy, cringe or cry.”

Michal is the older brother of Katurian and is played by Zachary Green, junior theater arts major. Michal knows nothing more than the stories of his brother, whom he idolizes, and the memories of the abusive parents he once had.

“My character is very innocent and kind of rough,” Green said. “He was a kid tortured and he is invincible because he can get through anything.”

“He doesn’t grasp the concept of life, death and pain,” Green said.

On the other hand, there is Detective Tupolski, a kind of rugged character who is convinced that Katurian is the man responsible for the murders.

“He is a detective with a past,” said Mike Roche, a technical theater and design major who plays Tupolski. “I feel like he is someone who knows exactly what he is going to do.”

The unusual plot line of “The Pillowman” made it stand out in Bride’s mind.

“I read it three years ago and I love it,” Bride said. “Yes, it’s dark, but it’s incredibly hilarious. It’s just about art and what it means to be an artist.”

This play had its own way of standing out and reflecting the true art of theater.

“That’s part of the fun of the play,” Bride said. “It’s not the typical stuff you find in the theater.”

“The Pillowman” has a number of turns that keep the audience wanting more. The play is sure to be a hit for those who are looking for suspense and to be disturbed.

“The Pillowman” performance will be at 7:30 p.m. tonight and Saturday in the Jane Dibbell Cabaret.

Shelby Nelson can be reached at

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