The Cripple of Inishmaan. Do you laugh at other's misfortunes?
Okay, here's the truth. I wanted to see this play for two EXTREMELY valid reasons.
“Oh, Harry Potter is in another play!” said most of NYC when the publicity for The Cripple of Inishmaan, starring Daniel Radcliffe, began. I grew up absolutely loving the Harry Potter movies, and thus, the actor himself. I vividly remember his Broadway debut. It was in Equus, and I was too young to see the production because of nudity, so my mom and I sat across the street and ate pizza at John’s as I ranted how I would run across the street to meet him if she would let me. I finally did meet him with my best friend at an interview for the 92nd Street Y, and there my love for him grew. My mother chatted with his Mom and Nana! He said his favorite musical was Jersey Boys and my best friend almost collapsed in her seat because that is the show that truly got her into theater. Then, when he took on a musical role in How to Succeed in Business, we made it our mission to get to that show. Something changed for me then! He stood out for me. He brought a level of heart that shaped his character as a truly lovable jerk. So he wasn’t the Daniel Radcliffe I had known as a child when I headed out to see The Cripple of Inishmaan, but I felt even more excited to see this wonderful, real and human talent.
I am Irish. I knew that this show was set on an island off the coast of Ireland and had a mainly Irish cast. Boom. I'm there.
So I had just seen my best friend perform in a delicious Shakespeare medley and I had to run to the theater to see The Cripple of Inishmaan with my Aunt Karen.
The curtain is down (before the show) and I'm feeling the ocean breeze. I'm trying to transport myself because I am so darn exhausted and I would love to be on a beachside in Ireland somewhere (I've never been) I have this truly idealized version of what Ireland is like. I mean, my name is Erin which means Ireland. My friends go and visit their families there all the time. It is basically their second home. I need to get there somehow.
So I kind of just let myself believe that I was there. The curtain went up and the most magical set appeared. It was just the interior of a storefront in a rural town but I was already sucked right into the simplicity and the greenness. When I heard the accents of Billy's two aunts, I thought about my family that I have met and the ones I haven't met that shaped their words similarly to these people (I am blatantly disregarding dialect accents... I realize).
So before I met Billy, I met an entire community of people who pity him, ridicule him, love him, laugh at him. Sounds like a tight knit community. But even though a community is strong and tight knit, it doesn't necessarily mean you feel like you have a place.
Everyone in the town's language, when it comes to Billy, hits me hard. But I didn't hate the prejudiced characters. I laughed at the way they treated him at times. I felt even a bit guilty when Act 1 ended because I usually do not laugh at others misfortunes, but found myself cracking up at every insult thrown in this play and then groaning a bit.
When Cripple Billy makes the choice to venture away from his family, I found myself thinking about my choice to go away for college. I used to want to stay exclusively in Manhattan for college. I was petrified of leaving my family, but I knew that I needed to learn how to flourish independently. I needed to get away from what I had deemed normal and easy for me. Billy's feelings of guilt and desire to be with his family resonated with this incoming college freshman.