The Lieutenant of Inishmore is a black comedy dealing with, among other things, the absurdity of violence and blind patriotism – of nationalism to a degree as well. It’s set on a small Irish island, and the characters speak wistfully of an Ireland free while decrying the “jack-boot hirelings of England’s foul monarchy”.
I’ve said before one man’s terrorist is another man’s patriot (actually, I think I stole that line from Ed Harris in The Rock), and this play certainly tries to shed some light on that.
At the time it was written, no one wanted to touch it with the situation being what it was in Ireland. A few years later and some shifting politics (not to mention a threat from McDonagh to not write another word until it was produced) and the play finally got off the ground.
It’s been relatively quiet in the US press about the IRA or any of it’s splinter groups (one of those, the INLA, features prominently in the show), and I didn’t hear a peep on the subject that I spent in Ireland just January, but I noted just a minute ago on the Anderson Cooper 360 blog there is a story about renewed operation of the IRA and some of its subsidiaries.
Check out the story here.
You certainly don’t need to know anything about Irish politics to enjoy the show, but those who do might enjoy some lines more than others.
Really, you just need to know that in many folks eyes the conflict between the Irish and the British is the longest-running war in human history. Many believe the British occupied a soveriegn nation in Ireland for far too long and despite the Republic of Ireland now being a free nation, that the British have without right held on to this tiny little piece in the north on their way out, far overstaying their welcome. Those same believe that Ireland won’t be free until it’s wholly free, and united.
But, opinions vary, even within Ireland.