The Unbearable Banishment: Who hacked off Christopher Walken's hand?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Who hacked off Christopher Walken's hand?

When he was 17 years old and living in Spokane, four "hillbillies" grabbed him and, for no apparent reason, held his arm down on a railroad track. A freight train came by and amputated his hand. The hillbillies took the hand with them and used it to wave good bye.

He spent the next 47 years looking for his hand and those four hillbillies. He eventually found the hillbillies and removed their faces, but he could never find his hand. He knew it was folly to look for it—it couldn't be reattached—but it was his and he wanted it back.

Photo: Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

A girl and a boy, young street hustlers, said they know where his hand is. They want $500 for it. The three meet in a seedy hotel room to exchange the cash for the hand.

This, believe it or not, is a comedy. And a damn funny one, at that.

Irish genius playwright and lunatic Martin McDonagh's new play is A Behanding in Spokane. The four actors are all fine but Christopher Walken gives one of the most enjoyable performances I've ever seen. Ever. The play really comes alive when he's on stage. When he delivers his lines, with his wonderful invented cadence, you hang on and absorb every word. His comedic timing is impeccable, but he can switch to sinister in a split second. Towards the end of the play there's a dialog between Sam Rockwell and Walken (Walken pointing a gun at Rockwell) that works so beautifully that I wish I could sit through it again.

The play unfolds in real time. It's an interesting device that I can't recall ever seeing before. What other play has done that? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Like all of McDonagh's plays, this isn't for the general masses. It's violent and profane and I wouldn't recommend it for everyone, but there are a few people I'd love to drag in to see this. [Mr. Jimmy, consider this an open invitation if you and Mrs. Hen happen to be in town. My treat.]

I saw McDonaugh's last play, The Pillowman, which is also a black comedy. That one is about a child murderer and torture. The audience was filled with unsuspecting innocents who hadn't done their homework. It starred Billy Crudup and Jeff Goldblum and I think a lot of tourists thought it would be a big thrill to see some movie stars in a play. You should have seen the looks on their faces when they exited the theater. They looked like they just got mugged. Not all theater is sissy stuff.



Blogger savannah said...

*sigh* i am so damn jealous! y'all know what's coming to town soon? the raveling company production of the wizard of oz. not that there's anything wrong with that, but...

*double sigh*


March 1, 2010 at 8:22 AM  
Blogger Ms Scarlet said...

Actually, with this and the previous post - I'm damn jealous too!

March 1, 2010 at 11:48 AM  
Blogger Ms Scarlet said...

...dammit... I was referring to the holiday post...
I missed one.

March 1, 2010 at 11:49 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Savannah/Scarlet: I had a chuckle over the fact that you’re jealous. I was a high school loser, never went to college and have always thought I was just regular. That anyone could envy me isn’t something I ever imagined happening.

March 1, 2010 at 2:46 PM  
Anonymous daisyfae said...

i'd go see this show in a heartbeat. but then again, i'd sit for a couple hours watching mr. walken tie his shoes... he's one of the great ones...

March 1, 2010 at 7:37 PM  
Blogger Poindexter said...

sounds so amazing - lucky you UB!!

March 1, 2010 at 8:09 PM  
Blogger Ponita in Real Life said...

Is there a DVD? I'd love to see it but Spokane is just a big too far away.

You can count me in the envious ranks... *sigh*

March 1, 2010 at 9:04 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Daisy: I know you a little bit and I'd have to say this stuff would make for a pleasant, memorable evening for you.

Point: I *am* lucky. But just don't look under the rocks.

Ponita: This play is still in previews and hasn't even opened yet. If they're thinking of a DVD, it won't be for a long, long time.

March 1, 2010 at 9:36 PM  
Blogger Ponita in Real Life said...


March 1, 2010 at 11:41 PM  
Anonymous nursemyra said...

Does Christopher Walken dance in this too?

haha... my verification word today is 'chingyna'

March 2, 2010 at 3:03 AM  
Blogger Here In Franklin said...

I once had a friend working on a movie set in rural Arkansas. One of her chores was fetching hookers for Mr. Walken. Not as easy as you might think in the Ozarks.

March 2, 2010 at 12:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spokane is about a 4 hour drive from where I live. Which just goes to show I've always had a good reason not to go there, I just never knew what it was till now.


March 26, 2010 at 2:27 AM  

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