Set on a remote island off the west coast of Ireland in 1934, “The Cripple of Inishmaan” is a strange comic tale in the great tradition of Irish storytelling. West Liberty University Hilltop Players will present the play to the public, Nov. 29 – Dec. 2 in Kelly Theatre.

Inishmaan scene

Standing, Mack Kale as Cripple Billy and Cassandra Hackbart as Helen, seated in front is David Dudzick as Bartley.

Curtain is at 7:30 p.m., Nov. 29, 30 and Dec. 1, and 3 p.m., Dec 2.

“This is a very interesting production in several ways,” said director Michael Aulick.  “For one thing, Martin McDonagh is a hot new playwright who has a cult-type following. We hope our audience will enjoy Inishmaan just as much as we do.”

Aulick also is playing the role of town gossip, Johnnypateenmike, in the play and is Director of Theatre at WLU.

The play begins as word arrives on Inishmaan that the Hollywood director Robert Flaherty is coming to the neighboring island of Inishmore to film the movie Man of Aran. The one person who wants to be in the film more than anybody is young Cripple Billy, if only to break away from the bitter tedium of his daily life.

Because the play is set in Ireland, Aulick said that he worked a great deal with his students on dialects. Most of the design has been handled by the WLU students, under the watchful eye of technical director/production designer, Meta Lasch, who teaches a variety of courses including costuming, makeup, lighting, drafting and stagecraft. Lasch is also serving as costume designer for this show. Richard Deenis is assistant technical director for the production.

The WLU production also is entered into the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

“The Cripple of Inishmaan” opened on Dec. 12, 1996 at Royal National Theatre in London. In 1998, it opened at Joseph Papp Public Theater in New York City and later in Los Angeles. In Dec. 2008, it was produced in New York City by the Atlantic Theater Company in conjunction with The Druid Theatre Company of Galway, Ireland.

Martin McDonagh said of his play, “I hope someday they’ll be regarded as true Irish stories; I don’t think they are at this minute. It will take a long time for the baggage of me being a Londoner to be in the past.”

WLU students in the cast include: Cassie Hackbart, Helen; Mack Kale, Cripple Billy; David Dudzik, Bartley; Derek Park, Dr. McSherry; Samantha Alkire, Mammy; Kacie Craig, Aunt Eileen; Olivia Ullman-Wright, Aunt Kate; Jaccob Trifonoff, Babbybobby; Clay Dunn, Johnnypatine understudy.

Others include: Meaghan Macey, stage manager, Miranda Pellicano and Maggie Dillon, assistant stage managers; Nathan Dunn, light design; Spencer Thomas, set design; Carlito Guildchrist, sound operator; Alex Glottfelty, props; Michael Blatzer, props master and Jed Shook, lights operator.

Audience members are advised that the play includes strong language and mature themes.

To make a reservation, please call 304-336-8277. To purchase discounted tickets online, visit htpinishmaan.brownpapertickets.com. Tickets at the door are $12.50 each.