The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh ran October 26 – November 17 at First Street Playhouse, 180 First Street, Batavia. Due to adult language and scenes of graphic intensity, The Pillowman is NOT recommended for children. At all. Really.


The set hadn't been painted yet, so the inappropriate light pastel colors are still there from the previous show.

NOTE: Don't click -- the above link no longer works; I took the video down from YouTube when the run ended. I'll be posting it here as soon as I get a chance. Thanks. This is a review from The Insider. It is available in libraries, restaurants & such throughout the suburbs.


Contemporary Pillowman is no sleeper

The Pillowman
3.5 stars | Through November 17
Fri-Sat 8 p.m., and Sun 2 p.m.
First Street Playhouse, 160 S Water St., Batavia,
630 406-6367

By Elizabeth Macik
Theatre critic

While November is typically a sluggish time for area theatres — most are readying their holiday productions — First Street Playhouse in Batavia is staging a refreshingly contemporary show, The Pillowman, and embracing this spooky part of fall.

Written by Irish playwright Martin McDonagh, the play opens in an unnamed police state where we meet eccentric writer Katurian (played by Dana Knudson) and his slow-witted brother Michal (Steve Schroeder). They’re being questioned regarding the murder of three children as each of the crimes are strikingly similar to others detailed in Katurian’s short stories. The set-up leaves the audience to ponder the notions of life imitating art. Does simply writing about murder make someone they truly capable of committing it? Moreover, is an author responsible if someone else is influenced by his or her words?

Kudos to First Street Playhouse for picking a piece not meant for children and moving away from traditional community theatre fare. This is modern theatre with a sparkling edge. The dialogue is fast and cuts to the bone with a story just odd enough to believe.

While the set and stage masking are rough around the edges, the acting is fierce and emotionally spot-on for the material. Director Craig Gustafson has assembled a cast that handles the language and subject matter with intense believability. Thankfully he does little to distract from the tale at hand or soften the more intense moments.

Knudson’s Katurian is a rogue — a likable oddball who mesmerizes the audience even when he’s not speaking. As the play moves through the murder interrogations, it is punctuated by Katurian’s descriptions of the stories on which each murder is based. As he steps away from the plot to speak to the audience, there is a dramatic weaving of theatrical elements from pure storytelling to more traditional plotlines that are intriguing, entertaining and horrifying. Each story eerily begins with “Once Upon a Time,” so that they begin in a childlike tone before turning gruesome and allegorical. This is a bizarre tale with a satisfying ending.

Schroeder, as the slow, teddy bear-like brother, Michal, is both endearing and maddening. We want to hate him for his role in the crimes but somehow we can’t. It’s his mixture of pathos and innocence that is reminiscent of Lennie from Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.

The good cop/bad cop team of Ariel (Patrick Able) and Tupolski (Lars Timpa) sent to interrogate the brothers provides a fun amount of trickery as the story keeps unfolding with twists and turns around every corner.

Sound design by Craig Gustafson is a tinkling mood setter that keeps this piece in the audience’s mind well after it’s experienced.

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