Highly Recommended Theater: HANGMEN (by Martin McDonagh West Coast premiere at San Jose Stage Company)

Post image for Highly Recommended Theater: HANGMEN (by Martin McDonagh West Coast premiere at San Jose Stage Company)

by Tony Frankel on March 18, 2024

in Theater-San Francisco / Bay Area

Martin McDonagh’s Hangmen at San Jose Stage Company

I was lucky enough to catch the limited run of Martin McDonagh’s tense and very funny Hangmen on Broadway, and it was sensational. Now, San Jose Stage Company, where not long before the lockdown I saw The Humans done better than the original Broadway production, is presenting the West Coast Premiere of McDonagh’s masterpiece from April 3 – 28, 2024, directed by James Reese.

While it contains the pitch-black comedy and shocking revelations that you may know from his previous works set in imagined Irish locales, this one occurs at a small pub in northern England (McDonagh actually lives in London). Before we see the pub, there is a jaw-dropping prologue that has British executioner Harry Wade (popular Bay Area actor Will Springhorn Jr.) hang a man who falls to his death proclaiming his innocence. We move from 1963 to 1965 to the pub in Oldham that Harry owns. Harry — living with his wife Alice (Judith Miller) and fifteen-year-old daughter Shirley (Carley Herlihy) — is known as the second-best hangman in the land.

A journalist has arrived to interview Harry about The U.K. abolishing hanging as a form of execution; after much protestation, Harry takes the journalist upstairs and gives him an extensive interview, complete with disparaging remarks about the number-one hangman in England, Pierrepont (Julian Lopez Morillas). Then, a smiling but menacing stranger named Mooney (Matthew Kropschot) comes to the pub and stirs up some trouble, causing tension in the bar, which is filled with usual customers — some cronies, some sycophants — and one fairly quiet police inspector (Michael Champlin). And that, dear ones, is all I’m gonna say, because the the reveals are too fun to spoil. I will add that the cast is rounded out by Randall King, Keith Pinto, Nick Mandracchia, Michael Storm, and Matthew Locke.

In addition to Reese, the creative team includes Iliana Karbowski (Stage Manager), Robert Pickering (Scenic Design), Ashley Garlick (Costume Design), Maurice Vercoutere (Lighting Design), Steve Schoenbeck (Sound Design), Johnny Moreno (Fight Choreographer), Bill Vujevich (Scenic Artist), Jenn Trampenau (Props Coordinator), Kristin Hill (Dialect Coach), and Kimberly Mohne-Hill (Assistant Dialect Coach).

Sixth in the line of Martin McDonagh plays to grace The Stage (following The Lieutenant of InishmoreThe PillowmanThe Lonesome West, A Skull in Connemara, and The Beauty Queen of Leenane), Hangmen is a darkly comedic exploration of justice and punishment that will have audiences laughing out loud, simultaneously shocked and delighted by its twists and turns. Artistic Director Randall King says, “Hangmen fearlessly navigates the realms of justice and capital punishment, interweaving a thought-provoking and darkly comedic narrative filled with its trademark McDonagh twists and turns.”

by Martin McDonagh
San Jose Stage Company, 490 South 1st Street in San Jose
runs April 3 – 28, 2024, with press opening  on April 6
for tickets ($34 to $74), call 408.283.7142 or visit The Stage

Leave a Comment