Five Moments in the Theatre That Truly Shocked Crackskull Row Star John Charles McLaughlin

March 8th, 2017 by

Five Moments in the Theatre That Truly Shocked Crackskull...

Newcomer John Charles McLaughlin stars as Young Rasher and ESB Boy in Irish Rep and the Cell's acclaimed production of Crackskull Row. Honor Molloy’s Oedipal drama leaves audiences shaken (or shook AF, as the kids would say) with some pretty big, shocking revelations.

Crackskull Row - Irish Rep

Photo by Carol Rosegg

BroadwayBox caught up with John to hear from him about five memorable and shocking moments he experienced as an audience member.

Taylor Mac's A 24-Decade History of Popular Music: 1930s-1950s, New York Live Arts

Taylor Mac GIF- confetti GIF

I will never forget seeing Taylor Mac perform live and won't rest until I get to again. I was crushed to miss the full 24-hour event at St. Ann's Warehouse this past fall, but the 3 hours I saw at New York Live Arts was some of the most intimate, subversive, mind-skewering theatre I've ever seen. The whole evening was electric from the magnificent costume reveals to his razor-sharp banter to the innovative audience participation, but I'll remember it most for the radical, incisive historical perspective he exhumed through classic American songs. You don't watch someone in beautiful avant-garde drag sing "Surrey With the Fringe On Top" to two sleeping Nazis and live to forget it.

An Octaroon, Theatre For a New Audience

An Octoroon

Photo by Pavel Antonov

Every moment of this updated play by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins was a gamechanger for me. It dragged convention out from the wings and twerked on it. I can't recall ever before being so steadily shocked with delight or horror, laughing so hard one moment and weeping so deeply the next. Every theatrical element—the performances, the direction, the set and projections—was a visceral upheaval, turning America's devastating history of race relations completely on its head. So many shocking moments from this show to choose from, but the major initial set reveal of a wall collapsing onstage blew the house away and set the tone for an unforgettable experience.

Runaways, Encores!

Last year a friend of mine convinced me to tag along to the closing performance of this production and I am forever indebted to him. I wasn't familiar with the work of Liz Swados, but I was a better person for the education. The raw stories and songs from these literal children cut deep, none more than the moment near the end when a young man wailed the piece "To the Dead of Family Wars" condemning the damages adulthood reaps on the world. When he screamed "I say make laws against regret," I don't think anybody in the theater could breathe.

How to Make Friends and Then Kill Them, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater

How to make friends and then kill them

Photo by Hal Horowitz

Halley Feiffer's play was probably the darkest, most twisted mean girl story I've ever seen. It constantly tested the threshold for which humor can be found in the deranged. The shameless psychological manipulation and torture these girls put each other through was jaw-dropping, and the awesome cast left you consistently unsure how much you were willing to forgive.

5. My high school production of Guys and Dolls

Violin broken

One of our crap shooters barreled downstage during his getaway after the major Salvation Army bust, flying full throttle into the orchestra pit onto one of our violinists. Everyone made it out okay... except for the violin.

Don't miss John Charles McLaughlin in the dark and twisted 'Crackskull Row', extended at Irish Rep through March 26.