Dark Comedy At Its Finest: HANGMEN At Wyndham’s Theatre

By Shaun Nolan
Monday 11 January 2016

When hype surrounds a show as much as hype has surrounded the Royal Court’s new play HANGMEN, I start to worry – will the show live up to the standards that I’ve heard about it? With a play like this one, which at its heart is very much focused upon the kind of humour that you’re interested in, each person’s opinion differs. Luckily, when I went to go and see the second preview of this play’s West End transfer at Wyndham’s Theatre the other week, I was far from disappointed.

The story of the play begins in a prison cell when Hennessy is thrown into the room by a pair of guards led by Harry the Hangman – following a dark yet hilarious conversation, Hennessy comes to his certain end and we are suddenly introduced to Harry’s pub filled with his friends, family and laughter. From here on in, the story follows what the family and friends talk about, life after hanging is abolished in the UK and the threat of a possible murderous psychopath being in their midst. Not only is the play a fantastic piece of gripping drama that truly has you both horrified and on the edge of your seat for some moments, but it also manages to be laugh out loud funny at others and the blend of the two emotions is so slick and intelligent that I was overwhelmed by the show’s complexity and charm, despite the heavy subject matter. Martin McDonagh crafts an expertly written dramatic comedy with sheer excellence and it instantaneously made me a massive fan of his work; Matthew Dunster’s expert direction of the piece brings this work of art to life with beauty and expertise.

Not only was the creation of the show amazing but the cast on stage were equally as good, too. The cast was led by David Morrissey as Harry, the man who is made redundant after hanging in the UK is abolished. The character’s emotional arc is so vast and Morrissey manages to stick to the character’s emotional change with such style that I’m most certain his portrayal will get him an Olivier nod. His beautiful performance is supported wonderfully by Sally Rogers as his wife, Alice and it was nice to see a character that could be both hilarious at some moments and dead pan serious immediately afterwards – another commendable performance. Other standouts in the cast include Johnny Flynn’s terrifying portrayal of Mooney, Andy Nyman’s hilarious Sid and Bronwyn James’ naive and relatable Shirley.

If you’re a fan of films like Heathers and Serial Mom then you will love the feel and the humour of Hangmen, but you’ll also love the drama and story that it follows if you’re a fan of Agatha Christie dramas and other murder mysteries. I personally think that it’s one of the most enjoyable and charming straight plays that the West End has offered in years and I would highly recommend it to anyone.

Have you seen HANGMEN? Tweet me at @shaunycat and @theatre_direct and let me know what you thought if you have! And if not? Booking until 5 March, 2016, you can get your Hangmen tickets at LondonTheatreDirect now.


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Shaun Nolan

Shaun grew up listening to the cast recordings of musical theatre treasures like Miss Saigon and Cats before finding his own feet at a young age and exploring a wide breadth of musicals and shows by himself. Now that he's older and wiser, he loves nothing more than taking very regular trips down to London's West End to soak up the pure magic that he loves so much... and then coming home and sharing it with you on his own blog and London Theatre Direct.

Please note: Opinions expressed on the blog are those of the relevant contributors, not of London Theatre Direct Ltd, its owners or staff. London Theatre Direct Ltd is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by contributors.

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