You might have heard the story about Mark Andrew Twitchell, who is a Canadian convicted of first degree murder in 2011 for killing John Brian “Johnny” Altinger. His trial attracted substantial media attention because he was inspired by the Dexter Morgan character, featured in the “Dexter” television series, a serial killer who works as a forensic bloodstain pattern analyst for the fictional Miami Metro Police Department. Twitchell was an aspiring filmmaker who dreamed of making blockbuster movies. In September 2008, he shot a short horror film at a garage he rented in the south end of Edmonton, where he murdered and dismembered his victim, just like “Dexter.”
It seems unbelievable that life imitates art in this manner. But, what may be a more interesting question, is if there is any responsibility to the producers of said art. That is one of the major themes in the current fantastic production of The Pillowman, currently running at Con-Con. The Pillowman is a 2003 play by Irish playwright Martin McDonagh. It tells the tale of Katurian (Tom Kondilas), a writer of short stories which often depict violence against children, has been arrested by two detectives, Ariel (Stuart Hoffman) and Tupolski (Robert Hawkes), because some of his stories resemble recent child murders. When Katurian hears that his brother Michal (Daniel McElhaney) has confessed to the murders and implicated him, he resigns himself to his execution, but attempts to save his stories from destruction. The play includes both narrations and reenactments of several of the short stories, which provide insight into the layers of dysfunction that are present.
Director Geoffrey Hoffman has assembled a fierce cast to dive into this totalitarian nightmare. Great use of the space and tightly paced. Great ideas executed to explore and communicate the inner belly of this piece. Kondilas is a bright centerpiece. He has the bulk of action and exposition, and you almost could compare his role to “The Pillowman Cometh.” He handles the script with clarity, depth and keeps the moments close at hand. A very strong performance. Hawkes is a play stealer, and I mean that as the best compliment. His character is solid, and delivers with acute execution, and deft comedic timing. Yes, you laugh in this piece. His monologue regarding a young chinese child and a paper airplane is mesmerizing, because of how many fascinating levels one actor can bring to the table. Incredible work. Stuart Hoffman is appropriately textured as well. He brings anger and sympathetic layers to his role, and also, offers some comedic gems. But, his most violent moment with Katurian, is frightening as hell, and incredibly effective because of brilliant execution by both parties. McElhaney must have learned a lot on his previous journey through the cuckoo’s nest, because he nails this character. Finding so much truth, and presenting a sympathetic character, with a tragic reality. Truly inspired. Melissa Freilich as the Child is fabulous. Her representations that occur in the Jesus story, and the burial scenes are excellent. Nicole McLaughlin brings a Serial Mom-esque layer to the Mother, that is chilling.
Production Team: Director Geoffrey Hoffmann (Excellent work). Clyde Simon, not only the Artistic Director, but also the Durga Puja of Con-Con, as he is the Stage Manager, Co-Set Designer, and Sound Designer for the show. Lighting Designer Terrii Wachala (very effective looks and feel), Costume Designer sade wolfkitten (Great looks), Fight Choreographer (Good physical mechanics)
This is Con-Con getting it all right, and that is a very good thing to experience.
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$10-$15 General Admission
2438 Scranton Rd
Cleveland, OH 44113