Hangmen by Martin McDonagh (l-r Paul Gallo as Bill, Luke Boughner as Peter Mooney, and Joey Ouellette as Harry Wade) Photo Credit Kieran Potter

Post Productions hosts Hangmen by Martin McDonagh (l-r Paul Gallo as Bill, Luke Boughner as Peter Mooney, and Joey Ouellette as Harry Wade) Photo Credit: Kieran Potter

When it comes to putting forward groundbreaking plays, Post Productions has become something of a stalwart in Windsor’s theatrical arena. Having previously introduced the local audiences to challenging works by Martin McDonagh such as ‘The Pillowman’ and ‘In The Beauty Queen of Leenane,’ the company continues to impress with its latest offering: ‘Hangmen,’ playing Oct. 13, 14, 20 and 21, 2023, at The Shadowbox Theatre.

The setting is a quaint pub in Oldham, England, a milieu that might seem surprisingly domestic for a play focused on the macabre subject of capital punishment. However, it is precisely this dissonance that lends the show its spine-tingling sense of foreboding. The stagecraft, brought to life with impeccable detail, serves as the perfect backdrop for a hanging. It’s intense, thrilling, daring, and, in true McDonagh style, slightly absurd.

The play opens in a pub owned by Harry Wade, played by Joey Ouellette. Harry is one of the last hangmen in England, and his dark profession becomes the cornerstone of the ensuing narrative. When Harry finds himself amidst an abolitionist societal turn, strange characters begin to appear in his life, questioning his morality and darkening the cloud of suspicion that looms over his head. No spoilers here, but expect an intricate tapestry of humor, drama, and moments that will leave you clinging to your seat.

Fay Lynn, the director, outdoes herself with ‘Hangmen.’ One of the most jaw-dropping moments comes when one of the actors is literally hanged in front of the audience. The use of props in this scene is not just clever, but visceral, bringing an immediacy to the storyline that few plays can achieve. The fact that the audience is left stunned, contemplating the dramatic weight of what they’ve witnessed, speaks to Lynn’s brilliance. This may indeed be her best directorial performance to date.

Joey Ouellette’s portrayal of Harry Wade brings both an intensity and vulnerability to a character who is as complicated as he is morally ambiguous. Ouellette’s performance is both heartrending and exhilarating, a masterclass in character study. Luke Boughner offers an eerily unsettling portrayal of Peter Mooney and James Hennessey. His versatility on stage is commendable, oscillating between creepy and enigmatic with ease.

Cheri Scratch, an old favorite, is fantastic as Alice Wade. She captures the essence of a woman who is both complicit in her husband’s profession and also, seemingly, naive to its weight. Rachel Hillis, playing Shirley Wade, adds a touch of girly innocence that provides a stark contrast to the grim undertones of the plot. Hillis is a breath of fresh air and offers the audience a momentary, albeit tenuous, escape from the play’s intense atmosphere.

Shaun Mazzocca’s Syd Armfield and Gregory Girty’s Inspector George Fry add additional layers to the story, bringing in shades of authority and ethical ambiguity. Michael K. Potter is especially noteworthy in his dual roles as Arthur and the Governor, adding layers of complexity and dribbling to the plot.

Paul Gallo and Eric Droski embody drunkards Bill and Charlie with finesse, imbuing the narrative canvas with texture and chromatic subtlety that could easily go unnoticed but are vital to the play’s atmospheric depth. Similarly, Cody Tersigni brings a steadiness to his role as Derek Clegg, stitching yet another intricate pattern into the play’s complex tapestry of characters. Completing this distinguished ensemble is James Neeley, taking on the diverse roles of Albert Pierrepoint and the Doctor. With a performance that oscillates between stern authority and subdued compassion, Neeley’s contribution not only elevates the production but also serves as a poignant capstone to a local theatre career that has been marked by decades of sterling performances. This outing, poignantly, may be Neeley’s swan song in the local theatre landscape, making his multi-layered portrayal all the more significant.

If you have the chance to see ‘Hangmen’ at The Shadowbox Theatre, don’t hesitate. This is a production that melds intensity, intricate storytelling, and technical allure. It’s a daring venture for Post Productions but one that pays off, solidifying its reputation as a theater company willing to go that extra mile.

Will it disturb you? Most likely. Will it entertain you? Absolutely. Will it provoke you into contemplation long after the final bow? Undoubtedly. ‘Hangmen’ is not just a play; it’s an experience — a macabre dance of ethics, humanity, and the twisted sense of humor that life sometimes offers.

Visit https://www.postproductionswindsor.ca/ for more information.

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