The form on the stage is indistinct as the lights come up at Masquers Playhouse. It's just kind of a black, furry lump, with a little red at one end.

Two Irishmen, Davey (Alan Coyne) and Donny (Avi Jacobson) blather on from their chairs as the lump just lies there, not moving or doing much of anything. Talk turns to where Wee Thomas, a black cat belonging to Donny's son, Padraic (Damien Seperi), might be.

Involuntarily, your eyes move toward the lump on the floor as Donny and Davey scream in a combination of angst and apoplexy. And you laugh, because as dark as the material is (we are talking about a dead cat, after all), "The Lieutenant of Inishmore," by Martin McDonagh, is an insanely funny comedy.

Case in point: When Donny calls his son to tell him his cat is ailing, Padraic, an Irish revolutionary, is busy torturing James, who is hanging from the rafters, upside down. Already, Padraic, the self-styled leader of his own IRA rebel splinter group, has yanked off two of James' toenails and is threatening to tear off a nipple.

But news of Wee Thomas causes Padraic to free his prisoner and speed to Inishmore. Donny had refrained from telling his son his cat is actually dead, so he and Davey fear for the worst when Padraic, whom the IRA rejected because he was too violent and temperamental, arrives to look in on his pet.

And when he does, the bloodshed of McDonagh's play is unleashed.


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Mairead (Cherie Girard-Brodigan), Davey's tomboyish sister, is practicing with her BB gun and shoots her brother in the cheek. He stomps off and she meets Padraic and immediately falls under his spell. And when Padraic realizes her rebel ambitions and fondness for guns, he begins to have feelings as well.

Meanwhile, there are other rebels after Padraic, Joey (Dan Kurtz), Christy (David Stein) and Brendan (Jesse MacKinnon), and they want blood.

Thus, there is so much revenge in the air that the blood begins to flow.

And this isn't just a couple of drops of blood or a cut finger or forehead. Nope, the blood comes by the bucketful, in bursts and explosions, and stains the furniture and curtains and covers the stage.

And as gross and disgusting as this may seem, it is also wildly funny, and becomes more so as the violence becomes more and more over the top.

Director John Maio has cast the play well -- not only do the actors deliver McDonagh's intricate dialogue beautifully, but with spot-on dialects. Maio also keeps his actors moving with a nervous sort of anxious energy as the play gets wilder and wilder.

"The Lieutenant of Inishmore" is an unlikely choice for a community theater, not only for its edgy subject matter, but because it is a somewhat complex production that is not easy to stage. Maio and the Masquers cast, however, have met the challenges well and made the company's decision to stage "Inishmore" a sound one.

'THE LIEUTENANT
OF INISHMORE'
By Martin McDonagh, presented by Masquers Playhouse
Through: Sept. 28
Where: Masquers
Playhouse, 105 Park Place,
Point Richmond
Running time: 1 hour,
45 minutes
Tickets: $22, 510-232-4031, www.masquers.org.
Note: Extremely violent content is not suitable for young viewers.