From Moon to Inishmore

Philadelphia director Matt Pfeiffer may have the luck of the Irish with two hit shows playing at once. He directed the unanimously praised production of Eugene O’Neill’s A Moon for the Misbegotten at the Arden Theater and across town at Plays and Players he is opening Martin McDonagh’s satirical gore fest The Lieutenant of Inishmore, for its high-tech Philly premiere by Theatre Exile.

The show has an array of literally hair-trigger effects and balls-out fight sequences. The action is choreographed by mayhem wizard Waldo Warshaw, who usually works on Broadway and in film..

“I’m largely driven by performances. But there is a physical element to the show that has to be like clockwork.“ Pfeiffer said. “Actually, the effects are so silly and outrageous… it has to look all the more real, if it doesn’t‘ the audience could easily dismiss it.” And there are so many moving parts a lot could go wrong he says “There are some plan B’s in place if there are misfires, but there are not backups for everything.”

Aside from the special effects, there is no backup needed for McDonagh‘s script. “ Actually, this was one of six plays, he famously wrote in one year. I direct a lot of language pieces that requires incredible performance level. McDonagh so brilliantly satirizing violence and vengeance. There is such an absurdity to the proliferation of violence in Ireland during what they call ‘The sorrows.’

Pfeiffer admits that the complexities of McDonagh’s text along with the intricate tech is a high wire act. “And a willing, precise cast. We didn’t spend a lot of time reading around the table. We had to do it on our feet, for a lot of reasons, to not make it an intellectual experience. We worked with an Irish dialect coach and my work was very action based.”

“O’Neill was a high-wire act of a different kind. Emotionally, Moon is stratospheric and be intimate, not distanced from people. Moon features tour de force performance by Grace Gonglewski. “Whether it’s taking on a classic like Moon with the kind of performances audiences don’t get to see all the time. To see them up close or something as chaotic and rock and roll like Lieutenant…the goal is a communal theater experience.

Pfeiffer said “he had most of these actors in mind if he did Inishmore and at the center there is the raucous operatic performance by Paul Felder as Padriac. The play doesn’t work if you don’t have a legitimate threat in the lead.”

Paul Felder & Wee Thomas reek havoc in Inishmore