Poldark’s aiming to rule the West End: Aidan Turner to make his debut playing cat-loving Irish terrorist in controversial comedy The Lieutenant of Inishmore
By BAZ BAMIGBOYE FOR THE DAILY MAIL
For more info on show, visit our Aidan Turner News page here:The Lieutenant of Inishmore 2018
Poldark star Aidan Turner will be escaping — briefly — from the Cornish coast next year to make his West End debut playing a cat-loving Irish terrorist in Martin McDonagh’s controversial black comedy The Lieutenant Of Inishmore.
‘I think people will be surprised,’ Turner told me, while on a short break from filming the fourth — and penultimate — series of the top-rated BBC television Sunday night drama. ‘It’s the furthest I can get from Ross Poldark that I can possibly imagine.’ (He was back in ‘Poldark-land’, as he put it, yesterday, with shooting set to continue till late January.)
The Lieutenant Of Inishmore will form one half of a two-play season for Michael Grandage’s theatre company — and 25 per cent of the tickets will be available for just £10.
Grandage said he has resisted increasing the price of the cheap seats, which have become a major part of his company’s campaign to attract young theatre-goers. Tickets will go on sale at 10am today for the show, which will begin performances at the Noel Coward Theatre on June 23 and run until September 8.
The first — and last — time Turner appeared on the London stage was as a British soldier in the Abbey Theatre’s production of The Plough And The Stars at the Barbican, back in 2005. It was his first play out of drama school. He went on to do several more in his native Ireland.
‘Theatre was it for me,’ he said. ‘That’s all I really wanted to do. The TV and film stuff got in the way slightly.’
Turner, 34, will play Padraic, a young man so crazy that even the IRA doesn’t want him. The piece, set in 1993 on the island of Inishmore, County Galway, was first performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2001.
Some theatre companies refused to stage it because they feared its violence (people are tortured, cats get splattered) might upset the peace process.
Padraic is a cat lover and his pet, Wee Tom, is the unwitting catalyst for all that occurs. Turner loves cats, too, and can sympathise. ‘People don’t want to see animals hurt, even if they’re animatronic, or whatever Michael has in store.’
But speaking to me from New York, where he was visiting friends and catching Denise Gough in People, Places And Things at the St Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn (a huge hit, by the way), he said McDonagh’s work also ‘allows us to see how torture and terrorism can be quite easily normalised’.
And although the stage is, at times, awash with blood, The Lieutenant Of Inishmore is, ultimately, an anti-violence play.
Turner said ‘there’s an energy’ to the piece, along with its ‘unique style of dark humour’.
I mention a scene where Padraic takes a call from his father while preparing to use a cut-throat razor on a bare-chested drug dealer dangling by his feet from the ceiling. ‘I’m at work at the moment, Dad,’ he says. ‘Was it important now?’
Turner, famous for setting hearts aflutter with his bare-chested scything in Poldark, chuckled and admitted there’s a certain irony in his character keeping his shirt on, for once. Of McDonagh’s writing, he said: ‘You catch yourself laughing at things you’d never joke about in real life. It’s breaking people’s hearts with humour, which is difficult to do.’
Friends, such as actress Sarah Greene, have been urging him to get back on the boards for ages. ‘I imagine I will do it more regularly now,’ he said.
Was he a tiny bit afraid? ‘Fear? No, it’s excitement for me,’ he said. ‘It can be scary. But truth is, I just miss the buzz of being on stage.’
And after that, there’s a fifth series of Poldark to shoot. ‘Then we’ve covered all the books, and the entire stories. It’s a five-year gig, when it’s all done.’