Review: The Pillowman

Will Amott went to check out Infinity’s The Pillowman – a dark comedy that proved very dark, and quite comedic.


The Pillowman, as put on by Infinity Stage Company, was an immersive experience with an outstanding lead. Although the play was inconsistent at times, and perhaps little long, it was well worth a watch.

The play was first performed in 2003 but one thing conveyed throughout this production was a sense of pervasive timelessness.

It follows a writer of gruesome fiction, Katurian K. Katurian (Ben Norris), in an unnatural police state that could be an alternate modern day or future. He and his brother are interrogated about his short stories and what relationship they might have with a series of recent child murders. Their interrogators are Detective Tupolski (a polished Hannah Aldridge) and her number two, Detective Ariel (Peter Dewhurst).

These short stories are mentioned throughout the play, and several are acted out with narration for our pleasure. And it is a pleasure, as Lily Blacksell, Tyler Harding and Cassiah Joski-Jethi demonstrate fine theatrical dexterity in their roles as a quasi-chorus. Special mention should go to Joski-Jethi, whose performance in ‘The Little Jesus’ re-enactment is arresting.

The beginning of the play unfortunately does not demonstrate the same artistry as what follows. Perhaps this problem is in part due to the cuts, but it is also due to the instant menace expected in Detective Ariel. It’s a lot to expect from Dewhurst, and he makes a robust effort but takes time to grow in to the role. His final scenes are excellent, mostly due to the relationship he and Norris forge on stage, and his tender interaction with Joski-Jethi in one particular sequence that forced a lump into all of my company’s throats.

The best performance is undoubtedly Norris. He is excellent throughout, adding pace and interest to the earlier scenes that otherwise lack it and wrenching us through the rest of the play at the speed of excellence. The relationship between him and Michal (a variable but occasionally expert Jack Toop) is finely handled, and the last 20 minutes of the play are all his. Even when he has a bag on his head.

The play explores the nature of storytelling, and one would think after seeing this show that a more capable storyteller would be hard to find on UoB campus.

The play was performed from 28th February to 2nd March in the Amos Room in the Guild of Students and tickets were £4-£7.