Martin McDonagh (born 26 March 1970) is an award-winning, English-born Irish playwright, screenwriter and director best known for The Leenane Trilogy, The Lieutenant of Inishmore and the Oscar-nominated 2008 film In Bruges. Jumping between both theatre and film frequently, several of his notable works include:
- The Leenane Trilogy (1996-1997), which consists of The Beauty Queen of Leenane, A Skull in Connemara, and The Lonesome West. The first and third earned him Tony Award nominations.
- The Aran Islands Trilogy (1996-2001), which consists of The Cripple of Inishmaan, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, and the unproduced The Banshees of Inisheer. The second also got him a Tony Award nomination.
- Other plays: The Pillowman (2001), wherein a writer is interrogated when the murder-based short stories he writes come true; and A Behanding in Spokane (2010), which follows a man trying to find the left hand he lost twenty-five years ago. Behanding starred Christopher Walken, who was nominated for a Best Actor Tony.
- Short films: Six Shooter (2004), a short film which involves a train passenger, coping with his wife's recent death, speaking with a very eccentric and possibly psychotic man. The film won McDonagh an Oscar for Best Short Film.
- Feature films: In Bruges (2008), a Black Comedy which follows two Irish hitmen hiding in Belgium following a hit that went wrong; Seven Psychopaths (2012), which follows screenwriter Marty trying write a script, only to draw unwanted inspiration when dragged into a dog-kidnapping; and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017), which follows a mother's crusade against her town's police force over her daughter's unsolved murder. Bruges won McDonagh the "Best Original Screenplay" BAFTA, and earned starring actor Colin Farrell a "Best Actor" Golden Globe, Psychopaths starred an Ensemble Cast and has become somewhat of a Cult Classic and Missouri won Best Screenplay at the 2017 Venice Film Festival.
McDonagh's works are easily recognized by being (generally) violent black comedies that focus on dysfunctional families, hired killers, and/or a uniquely twisted form of Small Town Boredom. Expect incredibly colourful language, and (in theatre at least) settings in (or near) County Galway (and surrounding islands) during The Troubles.
Further, his brother, John Michael McDonagh, made his directorial debut with The Guard (which Martin produced) in 2011, and also released Calvary in 2014. Like Six Shooter and In Bruges, they both star Brendan Gleeson.
Martin McDonagh's work contains examples of:
- Black Comedy
- Bloody Hilarious
- Brick Joke: the apparent feud between the unseen owners of a cat and a goose; Helen being hired to dispose of said animals; the owners not seeming to care about the feud anymore (because it was a cover to their Secret Relationship).
- Bury Your Disabled: deconstructed in Cripple
- Chekhov's Gun: Very prominent examples exist, so much so they alone act as a Rewatch Bonus. For example, the page for In Bruges notes how almost all the minor conversation act as foreshadowing for something to come.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Written works tend to have gratuitous amounts of bad language, so much so that characters from In Bruges lampshade Harry punctuating his sentences with "fucking."
- Covered in Gunge: Bartley in Cripple gets at least three eggs cracked over his head every performance
- Creator Breakdown: In-Universe in The Pillowman
- Disabled Character, Disabled Actor: This trope is discussed In-Universe in Cripple; the concept is Played With in several ways, although the actor playing Billy is almost always able-bodied.
- The Documentary: "Man of Aran," a real 1934 (docudrama) film.
- Economy Cast: Whilst expected of his theatre pieces, In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths follow suit as, save for a handful of speaking extras, the plot tends to focus entirely on the lives of six or seven main characters.
- Everything's Even Worse with Sharks: A shark is hunted in "Man of Aran" and is apparently how Johnnypateenmike's father died. The widow turns the other cheek. To a shark!
- Evil Matriarch: Mag is the first type in Beauty Queen.
- Faking the Dead: McDonagh LOVES this and its various subtropes. In the Aran Islands plays, it's a specific Homage to The Playboy of the Western World.
- Gorn: Between the blood, gore, and kitty brain matter in Lieutenant; hot oil in Beauty Queen; flying bone chips in A Skull in Connemara; and raw eggs in Cripple, it seems like McDonagh is off his game if he hasn't created a hideous mess for stage management to clean up every night.
- Gossipy Hens: rare male example in Johnnypateenmike, who is barters tidbits of information for goods from local merchants.
- Honorary Aunts: Kate and Eileen to Billy.
- Incurable Cough of Death: Double Subversion in Cripple.
- Knowledge Broker: Johnnypateenmike
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: "Better to cast a normal fella who can act crippled, than a crippled fella who can't act at all."
- Mamet Speak: Dialogue can be realistically clumsy, irregularly paced, and very frequently dips into vulgar.Ken: You don't even know we're here hiding out.
Ray: What are you talking about?
Ken: You don't even know we're not here on a job.
Ray: What, on a job?
Ray: Here? In Bruges?
Ray: Here? In Bruges? On a job?
Ray: Why? What did he actually say?
Ken: He didn't actually say anything.
Ray: Then why do you think it might be?
Ken: I don't think anything. But it's a bit fucking over-elaborate, isn't it? "Go take him to hide out." "Go take him to hide out where?" "Go take him to hide out in fucking Bruges." You can hide out in Croydon.
Ray: Hmm. Or Coventry. Hmm. It is a bit over-elaborate. Hmm.
- Maybe Ever After: Billy and Slippy Helen in Cripple. Fridge Brilliance kicks in when you realize siblings Mairead and Davy in Lieutenant share a last name with Billy Claven (established to have no living relatives) and many personality traits with Helen and her brother Bartley. That is, if Billy lives much longer after the play.
- Mommy Issues: Maureen in Beauty Queen— and how!
- Never Live It Down: In-Universe: Auntie Katie, who talks to stones.
- Oireland / N-Word Privileges: Early is his career, McDonagh received criticism for his depiction of the Irish, being born and raised in England himself.
- Only Sane Man: He's an alcoholic mess, but Father Welsh in The Leenane Trilogy is pretty much the only one in the village to never kill anyone.
- The Place: All the plays in the Leenane and Aran Islands Trilogies feature a place-name or direction in their titles. A Behanding in Spokane and In Bruges also qualify.
- Precision F-Strike: From, hilariously, a little girl in The Pillowman."I don't want to be like Jesus. I fucking am Jesus!"
- Proscenium Reveal: Cripple Billy's death scene early in Act 2 is revealed to have been his Hollywood screen test.
- Repetitive Name: Katurian K Katurian in The Pillowman. note
- Rule of Funny: "Let's play England and Ireland!" *egg to the head*
- Running Gag: In Cripple: "Ireland can't be so bad if [American, French, colored fellows, sharks] want to move here!"
- Seinfeldian Conversation
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Pretty Damn Cynical
- Strange-Syntax Speaker: Most everyone, especially older characters. It's essentially what you would get if you crossed Hiberno-English with Mamet Speak. The style was so distinctive it was parodied "How Are Things In Irish Drama?", the Forbidden Broadway take on Beauty Queen.
- The X of Y: Several titles