A Behanding in Spokane by Martin McDonagh

A Behanding in Spokane

 “I could have done without the cussing and the N-word”

 Said my companion, an African American woman in her 50’s who has recently returned to the U.S. after a 20-year sojourn abroad.  For me, I am not offended by the C-word (Cracker), but the repetitiveness of the F-word, the M-F word, the N-word, the lack of wit and the lack of coherence in the script and direction bored me.  I felt responsible for bringing her and deeply ashamed. 

            Although the script has been properly vetted for Seattle audiences by those authorities provincials hold in esteem, the New York Critics, I saw little value in the script and the direction was under par.  Mostly I was bored, but observant enough to notice all the logical inconsistencies in the script.  For example, at one point two petty drug dealers are hand-cuffed to a radiator within reach of a telephone and a window, while the hostage taker leaves the room.  Rather than breaking the window or making a phone call, they do everything to avoid actually getting out of the situation.  When the phone rings they answer it. 

Also the basic premise of the play seemed flawed.  Why would a violent neanderthal red-neck, who still loves his mother, look for his severed hand for 27 years rather than take revenge on the gang who severed it?  Critics always sit at the back to see if the actors can be heard and to ascertain whether the sightlines are O.K.  I initially missed a major plot point, which was expressed visually, because the audience in front of me blocked my vision. The production seemed a waste of talent for the four excellent actors who played the roles, and in such a small space the shouting made me feel uncomfortable. 

 On the other hand, many of the people in the audience laughed at jokes and applauded strenuously.     Afterwards, as we discussed the use of the N-word, my African American friend said “I’m old enough to remember the civil rights era and hearing the N-word still hurts”


 A BEHANDING IN SPOKANE by Martin McDonagh.  Theater Schmeater, 1500 Summit Ave.  Capitol Hill.  Through Feb. 23.  8:00 Tickets at the  door or www.brownpapertickets.com/event/275821




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