The play "Hangmen" by Martin McDonhagh is a comedy set in a pub in northern England. It is 1965.
Hanging as the death penalty has been abolished. So, what will the hangman do now? A journalist wants to know that for his newspaper.
And we liberals in the audience, watching the National Theatre Live film version of this, wonder what all the authority figures associated with administering the death penalty in America will do if it's totally abolished. It's refreshing to be able to frame that issue with a comic twist. Will Huffington Post descend on the Death Row guards for interviews?
Well, Harry, the former hangman, won't starve. Along with his wife, he operates that pub and a sometimes-BnB. But he will get in a lot of trouble. That includes accidentally hanging in his pub the miscreant he believes did his daughter wrong. And that man may or may not be the real killer of other women in the area. Two years ago, Harry had hung a man convicted of one of those murders who claimed to be innocent.
Well, the missing daughter turns out to be alive. The worst that happened was sex she experienced as fumbling and without love. And all the representatives of official law and order in the pub ignore the hanging that has just taken place. At the end, Harry and an assistant from the old days pull together to dispose of the body.
Should the death penalty be totally eliminated in the U.S. not only will a lot of manpower lose their jobs. Those in the loop, including the lawyers and the chaplains, will also lose their identity. Being associated with death in that dramatic way can be a heady experience.
If "Hangmen" comes to a movie house near you, see it. You will have much to reflect on, in an offbeat way.