What's shocking is the stage blood packets that explode in that scene with such force that they send spatters up through the first six rows of the theater. As we were sitting in the front row, Larry and I got our share. He turned to me after the play, pulling his shirt out in front of him. "This will come out, right?" It was a new shirt. I shrugged. Hard to say. Sometimes blood is made from chocolate syrup and that stuff never comes out. We should have been suspicious of being one of the only people sitting up front. Live and learn.
It's a tough play to sit through, funny as it is, and this might be the wrong moment for American audiences to have a laugh about the absurdity of torture. At one point, Padraic is standing next to a man he has suspended by his feet and is lecturing him about the fact that he refuses to choose which nipple Padraic will cut off. He's standing there, holding a pair of pliers in one hand and a razor in the other and saying something on the order of: If you don't choose, I'll take them both and probably feed them to you. So you might as well choose. To do anything else is madness. (The speech itself is much more clever, but I don't have it in front of me.) And then the phone rings and Padraic answers it, and learns that his pet cat is sick (or poorly). And he dissolves emotionally. And the man hanging next to him has to comfort him, by telling him that the cat probably has ringworm and if he'll just run round to the chemists for some pills, the cat will be all right in a couple of days. The whole exchange is funny in the most shamefully uncomfortable way. Fortunately, the actors were wonderful. I particularly liked Colin Hamell as Padraic and Lynn Guerra as Mairead, two grown ups playing emotionally stunted children who have been hardened to violence but who remain naive about everything else.
I enjoyed the performance, but I was glad for the end and I wouldn't want to have to see it again. And I don't even need a program; I have my bloodstained clothing to remember it by.