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The Pillowman Recommended

When: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through June 27 2015
Price: $20

Absolutely Abhorrent

Rife with violence — torture, police brutality, political repression, child molestation, fratricide, parricide — Martin McDonagh's 2003 play The Pillowman explores many uncomfortable themes, not the least of which is how, and if, an artist shares responsibility for the influence of his or her creation. Set in a fictional police state, Pillowman opens with its protagonist Katurian, the author of some truly grim fairy tales, in police custody because his writing corresponds with several real-life child murders. We learn about Katurian's chilling background — was his brother abused by his parents while he was spared for a twisted cultural experiment? — as well as those of his hard-nosed inquisitors. Following coiled brambles of logic and Irish lyricism, Pillowman reaches some joyless conclusions. Over the years, this award-winning script has appealed to some heavy hitters, including David Tennant, Jeff Goldblum, and Billy Crudup, all of whom have appeared in stage adaptations. Tonight, it is being tackled by The Breadbox, a company whose mission includes the "intellectual exploration of humanity's forbidden instincts," from cannibalism to incest.

The Pillowman opens at 8 p.m. and continues through June 27 at Exit Stage Left, 156 Eddy St., S.F. $20; 415-931-1094 or


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