You'd expect a play titled The Pillowman to involve a terrifying character who inflicts nightmares upon a poor victim's sleeping mind. On the contrary, the eponymous entity's purpose is to save children from the nightmares of their real lives. Is this an act of self-righteousness or the work of a true savior? And who is the Pillowman? Is it the protagonist, Katurian, the writer whose gruesome short stories resemble real-life crimes against children? Or is it his brother, Michal, whose childhood could have benefited from the intervention of such an antihero?
Pillowman director Arnaldo Carmouze explains: "Ultimately, as Katurian says in the play, 'The first duty of a storyteller is to tell a story.' This is a hell of a story."
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"It is rare to find a stage play that can frighten and disturb as thoroughly as this one does," Carmouze continues. "The Pillowman scares us because we get a sense that it could all be so easily real." So, yes, the play is terrifying, but don't expect globs of fake blood and other cheap horror tactics. Rather, the audience's fear is stoked by moments of eerie silence followed by flashes of fast, visceral violence. Writer and Tony award winner Martin McDonagh "creates a real sense of danger and suspense the moment the lights come up," adds Carmouze.
The Pillowman. Little Stage Theater at SoBe Arts, 2100 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $25, or $15 for seniors, students, and military. Performances will take place Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 and 7 p.m. from July 23 through August 8. Call 866-811-4111 for visit groundupandrising.org.
-- John Zur