The Cripple of Inishmaan

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The Cripple of Inishmaan
Cripple of inishmaan mcdonagh book cover.jpg
Methuen cover
Written by Martin McDonagh
Date premiered 12 December 1996
Place premiered Royal National Theatre,
Original language English
Genre Black Comedy
Setting 1934 on the island of Inis Meáin

The Cripple of Inishmaan is a dark comedy by Martin McDonagh who links the story to the real life filming of the documentary Man of Aran.

The play is set on the small Aran Islands community of Inishmaan off the Western Coast of Ireland in 1934, where the inhabitants are excited to learn of a Hollywood film crew's arrival in neighbouring Inishmore to make a documentary about life on the islands. "Cripple" Billy Claven, eager to escape the gossip, poverty and boredom of Inishmaan, vies for a part in the film, and to everyone's surprise, the orphan and outcast gets his chance.... or so some believe.[1]


The Cripple of Inishmaan opened on 12 December 1996 at Royal National Theatre (Cottesloe) in London.[2] In April 1998, it opened Off-Broadway at the Joseph Papp Public Theater, again with Ruaidhri Conroy in the title role.[3][4] In the same year, Frederick Koehler played Billy in Los Angeles.

The play was produced Off-Broadway by the Atlantic Theater Company in conjunction with The Druid Theatre Company of Galway, Ireland, opening on 21 December 2008. Directed by Garry Hynes, the cast featured Kerry Condon, Andrew Connolly, Laurence Kinlan, Dearbhla Molloy, Aaron Monaghan, Marie Mullen, Patricia O'Connell, David Pearse and John C. Vennema.[5]

In 2013 the play returned to the West End for a sold-out run starring Daniel Radcliffe as Cripple Billy and with Michael Grandage directing. In Spring 2014 this production transferred to Broadway at the Cort Theatre for a limited run, with Opening Night on 20 April 2014.[6]


Martin McDonagh said of his play, "I hope someday they’ll be regarded as true Irish stories; I don’t think they are at this minute. It will take a long time for the baggage of me being a Londoner to be in the past."

In an interview, after the play was performed on Inishmaan in 2011, it was reported that "Mr. McDonagh used an unprintable euphemism to explain that it has never been his intent to take the measure of his fellow Irishmen cruelly".[7]


  • Billy Claven, a crippled orphan
  • Kate Osbourne, Billy's adoptive aunt (known to talk to stones)
  • Eileen Osbourne, Billy's other adoptive aunt and Kate's sister (is known to hide candy)
  • Johnnypateenmike, the town gossip
  • Helen McCormick, a tough girl Billy has had a crush on for some time
  • Bartley McCormick, Helen's brother (the village idiot)
  • Babbybobby Bennett, a boatman whose wife died of tuberculosis
  • Doctor McSharry, the town doctor
  • Mammy O'Dougal, Johnny's alcoholic 90-year-old mother (is trying to drink herself dead)

Awards and nominations

The 2014 Broadway production received six 2014 Tony Award nominations: Best Revival of a Play, Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play (Sarah Greene), Best Scenic Design of a Play (Christopher Oram), Best Lighting Design of a Play (Paule Constable), Best Sound Design of a Play (Alex Baranowski) and Best Direction of a Play (Michael Grandage).[8]

Further reading

  • McDonagh, Martin. The Cripple of Inishmaan. Methuen Modern Plays. 1997. (Hardcover) ISBN 0-413-71590-6
  • McDonagh, Martin. The Cripple of Inishmaan. Vintage International. 1998. (Paperback) ISBN 0-375-70523-6


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  4. "'The Cripple of Inishmaan' 1998", accessed 6 April 2016
  5. Jones, Kenneth. "Marie Mullen, Beauty Queen Tony Winner, Begins Cripple of Inishmaan Run in NYC" Playbill, 9 December 2008
  6. Hetrick, Adam. "Martin McDonagh's The Cripple of Inishmaan, Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Begins Broadway Previews April 12" Playbill, 12 April 2014
  7. New York Times description of performance of play on Inishmaan
  8. Gans, Andrew. "68th Annual Tony Awards Nominations Announced; 'Gentleman's Guide' Leads the Pack", 29 April 2014

External links