Stay out of Spokane. That is, if you do not want to have the horrible chopping off of your hand that Carmichael (a superb Christopher Walken in all his gory glory) the main character in Martin McDonagh’s new comedy noir “A Behanding in Spokane” has happen to him.
It’s a long, convoluted and absurdly amusing story that has Mr. Walken searching 47 years to find that which is his – namely his left hand (cut off by a group of Hillbillies) – which has brought him to this seedy rat trap of an Hitchcockian hotel to purchase from a couple of weed dealing cons – the fair haired eternally looking aghast Marilyn (Zoe Kazan) and her black boyfriend Toby (Anthony Mackie who is likely to cry when things go bad or get worse as is the case here) who wind up being handcuffed to the radiator with a candle burning in a can of gasoline waiting to explode.
This is bizarre black comedy at its best. It is horribly funny for all the wrong reasons. Martin McDonagh has an imagination that delves deep into the outrageous and writes dialogue to match. He is aided and abetted in this masterful crime by John Crowley who has directed with sinister glee a cast headed by Mr. Walken who is perfect in this part. Looking dazed but in control of this spooky tale, his delivery is most original and his line readings always a surprise. Intense and in the moment at all times he creates an unforgettable macabre character.
If you find offensive the rampant use of the “N” word, or F***ing this and F***ing that which is part of everyone’s speech pattern, or do not like the sight of dozens of dead hands strewn across the stage or might be adverse to the racism against gays and lesbians in particular or you are too logical or anal to accept some of the plot points you might want to open up your narrow mind and go for ninety minutes of unstoppable repulsive hilarity.
There are two other characters. One seen and one unseen. Sam Rockwell is Mervyn the clueless hotel reception guy who gets involved in the most unlikely manner having always dreamed that something like this would happen and he could be brave and save the day – like Mighty Mouse. The other is Carmichael’s mother. He first calls her after shooting the black guy in the closet and later on has an incredibly nutty conversation with her about a balloon up a tree. Believe me you have to hear it to believe it. It is priceless seeing Mr. Walken shift gears so subtly and completely while keeping the audience enthralled throughout.
Four characters. Single set. No intermission. Hilarious. In. Out. Have a great time and wonder about that pair of shoes you put on this morning. You’ll understand when you go and you should. At the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. Final performance June 6th.
www.abehandinginspokane.com Photo: Joan Marcus