Exploring the greatest new and classic plays


Lily Allen and Steve Pemberton
The Pillowman
Duke of York’s Theatre, London, August 2023


066 – The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh

Aug 23, 2023 | Podcast Episodes | 0 comments

Martin McDonagh’s 2004 play The Pillowman is an uneasy mix of gruesome fairy tales, child abuse and murder, overlaid with McDonagh’s signature black humour. It is true to say that McDonagh’s work provokes contrasting responses. His plays have certainly been popular with audiences and producers, but they have also attracted hostile criticism from some reviewers and academics. Their blend of graphic violence with ironic comedy can be disturbing, which of course may be part of the author’s point.

I’m glad to have the opportunity to explore the shifting terrain of this unsettling play with an expert, Professor Eamonn Jordan. Eammon is Professor of Drama Studies at the School of English, Drama and Film at University College Dublin, and is the author of two books on the films and theatre of Martin McDonagh.

As we record this episode a new production of The Pillowman is playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London’s West End.

Eamonn Jordan

Eamonn Jordan is Professor in Drama Studies at the School of English, Drama and Film, at University College Dublin. Eamonn has written two books on the work of Martin McDonagh: From Leenane to LA: The Theatre and Cinema of Martin McDonagh, and, Justice and the Plays and Films of Martin McDonagh, as well as edited essay collections on contemporary Irish theatre.

Recommended Play

Eamonn recommended The Weir by Conor McPherson, 
By the Bog of Cats by Marina Carr, and 
Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw.

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