Perhaps for this opening production of its 26th season, the Mad Horse Theatre Company should change its name to Mad Cat or, better yet, Mad Irishmen.

Once again, the redoubtable company is taking us into the strange theatrical realm of Martin McDonagh.

McDonagh is arguably the best living playwright from the Emerald Isle. His work is not always easy to take, but is often hysterically funny in making its points about the too often unpleasant world we live in.

Nowhere are the yuks more thoroughly mixed with yuckiness than in his dark comedy “The Lieutenant of Inishmore.”

The 2001 play concerns the aftermath of the death of a pet cat on a lonely island road. The cat’s owner, a tough-as-nails and possibly insane member of an offshoot of the Irish Republican Army, returns to his hometown to find out exactly what happened to his beloved Wee Thomas.

Director Christine Marshall has assembled an excellent cast of eight (not counting kittys), made up of Mad Horse regulars and a few guests. They turn on the Irish accents and throw around a lot of rough language and rougher attitudes.

Much of the crudeness of the play, though, is wittily couched in dialogue tinged with absurd little niceties and quickly asserted, then subverted, claims of honor and patriotism.

Dave Currier plays Padraic, the bereaved cat owner who we first meet torturing a drug dealer in the name of a free Ireland. As reviewed on opening night, Currier was good at summoning that wild-eyed sense of menace that keeps most everyone around his character terrified.

A two-gun-toting time bomb, Padraic finally meets his match, in more ways than one, in the aspiring freedom fighter Malread, a spirited colleen with no qualms about shooting out eyes for the cause.

As Malread, Jessica Fratus was a strong presence throughout much of the 100-minute play. Her charater comes closest to being the true believer in the bunch.

Tony Reilly, on loan from the AIRE Company, was very funny as Padraic’s dad. Bantering half-soused wisdom with his gangly goof of a compadre Davey, played by Erik Moody, Reilly’s Donny reveals the underside of family traditions while trying to save his own skin.

Jordan William, Burke Brimmer, Johnny Speckman and Nate Speckman round out the cast, the latter three as hilariously bickering guerrillas out to get Padraic.

A clear-the-theater (for a set change) intermission with only 20 minutes left in the play seemed a bit unusual but did not distract very much from McDonagh’s farce being brought to bloody life by Mad Horse.

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.

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