Martin McDonagh's play "A Skull in Connemara" is the second in the Leenane Trilogy, about a small, rural town in Ireland.
The play opens in Mick Dowd's small, empty cabin. A
neighbor of his, Maryjonny, drops in after her weekly bingo game. They
have a lively discussion, at times bordering on becoming an argument,
but we get the sense that this is a fairly common ritual as they share
poteen in between harsh words. We learn, however, that Mick's job is
something most of the people in the town look down upon.
Mairtin Hanlon, Maryjonny's grandson, enters soon
after with the news (after more insults) that he will assist Mick in
his occupation. For one week every fall Mick is employed to disinter
bodies from the church's graveyard to make way for the recently
deceased. Mairtin also brings the news that they will be digging up the
section of the graveyard where Mick's wife, who died under mysterious
circumstances in a car crash, is buried.
The action of the play shifts to the graveyard,
where Mick and Mairtin have skipped over Oona's grave in order to clear
the rest first. They are waiting on Tom, Mairtin's brother and a police
officer, to come witness the raising of the corpse. Mick, however,
discovers that his wife's grave has been pillaged, and she's missing.
The third scene opens with Mairtin and Mick quite
drunk. They unload the bag of bones on Mick's table and promptly take
to hammering them to bits. As the night progresses, Mairtin makes an
ill-advised joke about Mick's wife going missing, and more importantly
the quality of the locket she was buried with.
Mick sobers up
immediately. The two characters gather the bones and prepare to drive
to the lake to drop them in.
Only Mick returns, however, and hes covered in what
appears to be blood. Maryjonny drops in after her bingo game but Mick
is in no mood to chat. As she prepares to leave she is met in the door
by Tom, carrying a bag. Inside is the skull of Oona, with a hole in the
forehead. He forces Mick to sign a confession that he killed his wife.
Mick does sign a confession, only it's the confession to Mairtin's
Tom becomes enraged when Mick tells him he killed
Mairtin and begins to strangle old Mick. The fight is only broken up
when a bloodied Mairtin enters the door, still drunk. Tom tries to get
Mairtin to charge Mick with attempted murder but Mairtin swears it was
just "drink-driving". Mairtin then goes on to enlighten Mick of Tom's
plot against him. It was Tom who dug up his wife and drilled the hole
in her skull in order to gain respect among the other policemen and to
perhaps get promoted. Tom runs out, shamed, and the play ends with the
sense that nothing will really be resolved in this dark, dark comedy.