REVIEW: ‘A Behanding in Spokane’

Irish playwright Martin McDonagh wrote his series of violent, dark comedies — The Beauty Queen of Leenane, The Lonesome West, A Skull in Connemara, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, The Cripple of Inishmaan and The Pillowman in a fit of inspiration mostly in 1996 and ’97, and bleeding into 2003. Since then, he’s concentrated on film work, winning an Oscar for live action short (Six Shooter), a nomination for writing In Bruges and his putting out his latest, 7 Psychopaths.

Notice a pattern, there?

His latest entree into the theater world is also his only American-set play: A Behanding in Spokane, currently at the Bryant Hall space in the Kalita Humphreys complex, courtesy of Second Thought Theatre. In its tense, brooding, hilariously strange 85 minutes, he uses the “N” word as if he thinks he’s Tarantino, sprays the audience with severed body parts and chains a nubile young woman and a black man up as if this was some barely-legal, racist snuff film.

It’s great.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

DFW Theater Critics Forum bestows annual honors

B.J. Cleveland, center, won a best actor award from the DFW Theater Critics Forum, along with its director, Michael Serrecchia.

It was a banner year for Theatre 3 at the annual Dallas-Fort Worth Theater Critics Forum luncheon, with three shows — The Farnsworth Invention, Superior Donuts and Avenue Q, which is still running — collectively garnering 10 awards, the most for any company. The star of Donuts, Van Quattro, also received the Emerging Artist Award.

It was a love fest for love, too, as partners Michael Serrecchia and Michael Robinson were both recognized for Avenue Q — Serrecchia for directing, and Robinson for designing the puppets.

Terry Vandivort, a staple at Theatre 3 for decades, received an award for his performance at Contemporary Theatre of Dallas in its The Night of the Iguana, alongside co-winner Ashley Wood. The show was also recognized for Rene Moreno’s direction. Moreno was additionally cited for directing August: Osage County at WaterTower and Coriolanus at Shakespeare Dallas.

Uptown Players received several nods as well: For B.J. Cleveland’s leading role in The Producers, wrapping up its run this week (as well as Serrecchia’s direction), and for Lulu Ward’s performance in last year’s Pride Performing Arts Festival for The New Century. (I declared her 2011’s Actor of the Year for the role.)

The gay-penned surprise hit musical Bring It On was the clear favorite among national tours.

In total, 30 shows were recognized and 41 awards given by the participating critics: Arnold Wayne Jones, Dallas Voice; Elaine Liner, Dallas Observer; Mark Lowry, Perry Stewart and Martha Heimberg, TheaterJones; Lawson Taitte, Dallas Morning News; Lance Lusk, Lindsey Wilson and Liz Jonhstone, FrontRow/D Magazine; Alexandra Bonifield, CriticalRant; and Punch Shaw, Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Here’s the complete list:

—  Arnold Wayne Jones