Review: “The Cripple of Inishmaan” starring Daniel Radcliffe

Dark comedy, so celebrated among British audiences, is no easy achievement. The on-the-nose content can often be too hard-hitting for the comedy to fly but this is of no concern for director Michael Grandage as the latest production in his star-studded West End season proves an enormous success.

The Cripple of Inishmaan, starring Daniel Radcliffe, is an outrageous comedy set in 1934 and based on the small Aran island of Inishmaan, off the coast of Western Ireland. Poor and hardened, the community of Inishmaan rely upon banal gossip and the bullying of ‘Cripple’ Billy Claven, played by Daniel Radcliffe, to relieve their boredom, until the news of a Hollywood film reaches them. Looking to document the lives of the island’s inhabitants and seeking local talent, the film has everyone excited and no one more so than Billy Claven. Captivated by the notion of Hollywood, Billy joins his neighbours in vying for a chance to star in the film and to escape this desolate place.

In its first West End revival since premiering in 1996, The Cripple of Inishmaan achieves a perfectly pitched balance between the play’s comedic moments and the more brutal aspect. It manages to have you creasing with laughter one minute and stunned into silence in the next.

Daniel Radcliffe gives one of his best performances to date as the crippled Billy, proving himself once again to be a strong stage presence. The only Englishman among a cast of Irish natives, Radcliffe’s accent is virtually flawless while his comic timing has come a long way over the years. He is surrounded by an exceptional cast with a particular mention going to Sarah Greene as the resourceful and tough Helen McCormick who, despite her best intentions to bully him mercilessly, remains a focus of affection for Billy. Billy’s bonkers adopted aunts played by Ingrid Craigie and Gillian Hanna are also worth a mention, providing much of the heart of the production as well as an offering of a less brutal strand of comedy.

The Cripple of Inishmaan is a West End production worth catching on its own merits alone, but as a chance to see Radcliffe once again prove his talent on the West End, it is unmissable.

The play runs until August 31 at the Noel Coward Theatre. More information on the production and how to purchase tickets can be found here.