Daniel Radcliffe, as if trying to prove that his acting abilities stretch far beyond Hogwarts, has consistently sought out challenging and surprising projects for all of his appearances on Broadway.
In 2008, he made his New York theater debut as the psychologically damaged Alan Strang in “Equus,” masterfully handling scenes full of nudity and madness. In 2011, he became a genuine song and dance man in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”
Now Radcliffe returns in the first Broadway staging of Martin McDonagh’s dark Irish comedy “The Cripple of Inishmaan,” in which he plays “Cripple Billy,” an orphan teenager with a mangled body owing to birth defects who lives on a rocky, desolate Irish island.
When a movie crew arrives to shoot “Man of Aran,” a 1934 documentary, Billy risks everything in hopes of being discovered as an actor. To the surprise of his strange aunts and the gossipy small community, he is taken back to Hollywood for a screen test.
Radcliffe sensitively captures Billy’s fragility and gutsiness all the while conveying his physical deformities, limping around with a bent arm and stiff leg, and signs of serious illness.
While Michael Grandage’s revival doesn’t quite equal the Druid Theatre Company’s pitch-perfect production, which briefly played Off-Broadway in 2008, it is a strong-acted, atmospheric staging that more than does justice to McDonagh’s bitter tale.
If you go: “The Cripple of Inishmaan” plays at the Cort Theatre through July 20.
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