How many innocent men are killed or put into prison? According to statistics about 120,000.00 are incarcerated for crimes they did not commit. In 2015, 149 people were cleared for crimes they didn’t commit, more than any other year in history. I remember the movie “The Thin Blue Line”, changed my perspective and innocents on the ideal that people in prison and who were killed, were guilty. Enter Martin McDonagh’s (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri“) Hangmen.
The set changes with an electric glare thanks to lighting designer Joshua Carr and in a blink of an eye set and costume designer, Anna Fleischle brings us to a pub in Oldham, Lancashire. The bar is owned by Harry, who turns out is the #2 hangman and his wife Alice (a wry Sally Rogers). With the abolishing of death by hanging, Harry holds court, still a local celebrity. Bill (Richard Hollis), Charlie (Billy Carter) who repeats everything to Arthur (John Horton), the police inspector Fry (David Lansbury) and Clegg (Owen Campbell), a newspaper reporter who is trying to get a quote from Harry, gather to shoot the breeze and drink pints. Enter newcomer, a shaggy haired Mooney (Johnny Flynn), a menacing, seductive stranger from up north. Mooney orders a pint and a bag of nuts. He brings with him an air of unfamiliarity that the locals do not like, except for 15 year-old Shirley (Gaby French) and Alice. Mooney is looking for a room to rent and at first Alice agrees. The next day as the storm starts to intensify with eerie sound effects by Ian Dickinson, so does the feeling of doom and impending violence. And we can’t leave out Albert (Maxwell Caulfield), England’s No. 1 hangman. Not everything is as it seems.
The cast is a well put together ensemble with Johnny Flynn as the standout. His layering of this character leaves us off guard. We are seduced, fearful and carried on his manipulative journey of no return.