The Pillowman – Hard Hitting, Dark Winner

What you don’t want to happen is to be interrogated by a “good cop – bad cop” routine in a totalitarian country. That’s exactly what happened to Katurian (Jeffrey Jones) in Ion Theatre’s current offering of Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman. Claudio Raygoza is directing.

This story is not for everyone; especially those who are offended by profanity, are repulsed by violence or the threat of violence, or are unwilling to explore extremely controversial issues. On the other hand, if you like excellence in acting, very good direction, a unique set, and pure hard-hitting drama, you’ll be impressed by The Pillowman.

A police detective, good cop Tupolski (Matt Scott), is interviewing author Katurian and violent bad cop Ariel (Jamie Effros) about the murder of some young children. The murders appear to be based on some of Katurian’s short stories. His mentally handicapped brother, Michal (John Polak) may be involved.

Scot and Effros are totally terrifying. They are anybody’s worst nightmare. Jones is convincing at the cowed interviewee. Kim Strassburger and Bill Dunnam play his parents. Ari Lerner, Zev Lerner, and Jessalyn Hernandez complete this excellent cast.

While a bit long for such an intense drama, it is riveting. The Pillowman is guaranteed to hold your attention. It will also question just how far authorities will got to get answer to their questions . . . whether the truth or lies. Claudio Raygoza has directed driving drama that never lets up.

The set, designed by Claudio Raygoza and Matt Scott, masters the space, offers five locations with a high level of realism. I recommend the production even though it is difficult to watch Katurian’s derogation at the hands of the police. You will be highly impressed at the total quality of this production. You will hope that you never meet a Tupolski or Ariel as long as you live. See it.


Bill Dunnam, Jamie Effros, Jessalyn Hernandez, Jeffrey Jones, Ari Lerner, Zev Learner, John Polak, Matt Scott, Kim Strassburger

Technical Staff

AD Sara Beth Morgan, Scenic Matt Scott & Claudio Raygoza, Costumes Jeannie Galioto, Lighting/Sound Claudio Raygoza, SM Katie Brost

Total Rating: Three Stars

Genre: Drama

Author: Martin McDonagh

Director: Claudio Raygoza

Date Reviewed: January 27, 2008

Dates: Thursday thru Sunday, January 20 to February 16, 2008

Running Time: 141 minutes with a 10-minute intermission

Caution Guidance: Profanity

Ion Theatre Company

4580-B Alvarado Canyon Road

San Diego, CA 92120

Box Office Phone 619 374-6894

Robert Hitchcox is a playwright, critic and fiction author, who reviews live theatre.