Welp, it’s a toss up whether you’ll love or hate Hangmen; some are calling it “the best new play on Broadway” while others say it “makes almost no sense at all.” It’s macabre and hilarious, and will leave you feeling guilty for any of your laughs. The plot may be a bit thin with some implausible twists, but it is played out by a devilishly talented cast on a phenomenal set and the fight choreography is choice. Love a little gallows humor and willing to suspend your disbelief for an evening? Hangmen might well be worth the risk.
The New York Times Review of Hangmen
Martin McDonagh’s rollicking comedy about capital punishment, now on Broadway, feels like a perfect fit for our unjust times. Welcome to Broadway’s fleurs-du-mal moment, a rare blossoming of funny plays on deeply unfunny subjects. … But no fleur is as mal right now as the one that opened on Thursday at the Golden Theater: “Hangmen,” Martin McDonagh’s rip-roaringly hilarious yet profoundly horrific play about the abolition of capital punishment. Or rather its endurance. For in this deeply cynical tale, set in the final days of the death penalty in England, we see how “justified” murder, no longer state sanctioned, survives by other means. … Threlfall’s titanic performance in this Royal Court Theater and Atlantic Theater Company production offers the most terrifying incarnation yet of the author’s acid misanthropy. Which is saying a lot. … And in Matthew Dunster’s whirlwind production, we certainly get a lot of excitement, even if it’s the sickly kind laced with danger. (The fight direction, by J. David Brimmer, is superb.) Dunster also extracts every possible laugh from each dour situation.
TimeOut Review of Hangmen
“Even when I try to be funny, I come across more as menacing,” says a chap named Mooney (Alfie Allen) in Martin McDonagh’s Hangmen, a play that wants to be both of those things. … The punchy dialogue is tinged with local color, and is performed by a fine cast of 12 that includes several visiting actors from the U.K. … Hangmen itself, however, has the same core problem it always had: Beneath its slick coating, it’s a slack exercise that in retrospect makes almost no sense at all. … McDonagh winks at conventions even as he uses them to cover up a thin and implausible story. Dunster’s staging adds to the sense of artifice, with lurching shifts of mood lights, Tarantino-esque music cues and a physical space that works directly against the would-be suspense of the play’s denouement. For a while, yes, it seems cool: Hangmen has plenty of twists. But the twists wind up forming a sloppy noose that is strong enough only to leave the play dangling, without a lethal snap, when the bottom falls out in the end.
Hollywood Reporter Review of Hangmen
Hangmen [is a] a delectably dark comedy about injustice, revenge and man’s instinct for violence, state-sanctioned or otherwise. … Establishing the macabre tone that runs through Matthew Dunster’s taut production, [the opening] scene deftly balances farce and horror up to and beyond the sickening thud of Hennessy’s body dropping on a rope to his death. The gruesome spectacle is made all the more startling by Anna Fleischle’s grimy set, Joshua Carr’s merciless lighting and David Threlfall’s unnerving sound design. … After veering toward insubstantial self-parody with his last new play, 2010’s A Behanding in Spokane, McDonagh is back in top form here. The first act’s teasing set-up deftly suggests all sorts of nasty outcomes and then the second act cleverly dismantles most of those expectations in a multi-character confrontation that gets messy in unpredictable ways, abetted by Dunster’s crafty blocking. If the later plotting becomes less precise, the dialogue — the majority of it in flavorful Northern English vernacular — crackles, the running jokes are devilishly good and the characters are incisively drawn, providing choice fodder for an electric ensemble.
New York Post Review of Hangmen
You’re absolutely wracked with guilt at “Hangmen” — from laughing so hard at the many, many inappropriate jokes. A crude sight gag near the end had me practically dry heaving. That nonstop naughtiness is what makes Martin McDonagh’s killer satire the best new play on Broadway by a green mile. The Brit’s comedy, which opened Thursday night at the Golden Theatre, is a heaping scoop of jaw-droppers and taboos — albeit with a sophisticated takeaway about the justice system — that’ll make wimps clutch their pearls for dear life. The rest of us can’t help but chuckle at the macabre madness. … As twisty as McDonagh’s script is Anna Fleischle’s phenomenal set — the best this year of any show, play or musical — that’s a veritable Russian doll of scenic surprises. … McDonagh fans will be delighted. The playwright gives his executioner and unhinged pervy weirdo the same sympathetic, funny treatment he gave a Northern Irish terrorist in the also teriffic “The Lieutenant of Inishmore.” In fact, this is his finest play since that one, 16 years ago.