A Behanding in Spokane (Play, Original) opened in New York City Mar 4, and played through Jun 6, A Behanding in Spokane, review, at Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, Broadway. On the evidence of his brilliant performance in Martin McDonagh’s new play, “A Behanding in Spokane,” Christopher Walken should have.

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Controversial playwright Martin McDonagh is used to creating headlines in Britain and Ireland with his dark tales laced with black humour and flowing with stage blood. So his attempt to crack the American market with his first play set in the US has caused an understandable stir on Broadway, where Christopher Walken has been persuaded to play the lead role.

But trying out an American setting as opposed to an Irish one is proving a challenging exercise. Some reviewers have judged that McDonagh — whose other plays include The Lieutenant of Inishmore and The Pillowman and who also directed and wrote the hit film In Bruges, starring Colin Farrell — fails to understand the American psyche as well as he does that of his fellow Irishmen.


USA Today called it: Then there was the New Yorker.

A Behanding in Spokane – Broadway Play – Original | IBDB

In an gehanding and withering review, the magazine’s theatre critic, Hilton Als, laid into the play for being overtly racist. Als, who is black, took umbrage at the play’s use of racist insults by Walken’s character, who is openly and proudly prejudiced.

He then went on to compare the play’s lone black role, Toby — played by Anthony Mackie, the star of The Hurt Lockerto the racist caricatures of black Americans that populated American cinema in the s and s. Als appears to be the only major critic who reacted to the play’s racial themes so viscerally. Few other reviews paid its use of racist language much attention, instead focusing on Walken’s performance, which has been widely praised amid early whispers of Tony awards.

‘Shameful and vile’: Broadway is rocked by racism claims

Spokaane Als’s remarks certainly hit home with the play’s British producer, Robert Fox. Although Hilton Als’s comments are meaningless in the scheme of things, because the show is doing very well, I think his remarks were entirely inappropriate and irresponsible,” Fox told the Observer.

Fox said he thought Als’s criticism was in itself an injection of racism where none was merited. He doesn’t identify himself [in the review] as a black writer.



I think it is extraordinary. I know people who have written to the New Yorker about it already.

It is completely out of order,” Fox said. Als did not reply to emails or an interview request from the Observer. Nor did the theatre or Mackie have an official reaction.

Some Broadway experts, however, agreed that, while the work does contain racially provocative material, it is unlikely to cause widespread offence, especially with audiences there to see Walken.

Bacalzo defended McDonagh’s right to put racist language in the mouths of one of his characters as he tries to take on American themes.

Topics Race The Observer. Theatre Martin McDonagh news.

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