Gamm’s “Hangmen” — black comedy at its best


Gamm’s Artistic Director, Tony Estrella, is the perfect person to direct Martic McDonagh’s black comedy, “Hangmen."

He has seen the play on Broadway and in London, and “Hangmen” is the fifth production of McDonagh’s works produced by him at the Warwick theatre.

Estrella has consistently accumulated outstanding actors, and “Hangmen” follows suit.

Gamm veteran Steve Kidd is Harry Wade, the perfect hangman, now retired from the job after capital punishment is abolished in England, and owning a pub with his wife (The wonderful Karen Carpenter) and daughter (Newcomer to Gamm, Abigail Milnor Sweetser). Wade is considered the Number 2 hangman in England.

The play opens with Harry performing his last hanging. Was the man innocent? Did cocky Harry care?

The regulars gather at Harry’s pub where a lengthy discussion of capital punishment takes place. A local reporter interviews Harry, who puts down the Number 1 Hangman.

A mysterious, menacing stranger enters the pub, looking to rent a room. John Hardin plays him as a manic, uncontrollable threat, leaving the characters and the audience to question his intentions.

While the first act drags a bit, it sets the stage for a terrific, mind-blowing second act, filled with surprises.

There’s a possible kidnapping, a threatened murder, coercion between the menacing stranger and Harry’s fired former assistant. Why he was fired sets the stage for one of the funniest moments in the play.

And then, when you think the situation can’t get any crazier, one more character shows up. I won’t tell you who, but I will say that veteran actor Jim O’Brien brings down the house with his few minutes on stage.

There is much to ponder in this play, which takes on the serious subject of capital punishment in a dark,  farcical fashion.

Jessica Hill Kidd has designed the perfect upstairs/downstairs set that allows smooth transitions of the action and gives you the feeling that you are sitting in that English pub.

“Hangmen” is the best thing I’ve seen this year.

You can see it through November 26 at Gamm Theatre1245 Jefferson Blvd., Warwick. Call 723-4266 for reservations.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here