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MARTIN MCDONAGH’S EPISTEMOLOGICAL INSTABILITY: THE NOOSE OF HANGMEN Joan FitzPatrick Dean Just before Hangmen opened at the Royal Court Theatre in London in September 2015, Martin McDonagh told Sean O’Hagan of The Guardian: “I really didn’t want it to be a message play” (O’Hagan). Yet a message play it is, one that argues cogently against capital punishment. In his fullest exploration of the often-intricate power struc-tures of male hierarchy, McDonagh’s most recent play realizes what several of his likely surrogates – storytellers like Cripple Billy in The Cripple of Inishmaan (1997) or writers like Katurian in The Pillowman (2003) and especially Marty in Seven Psycho-paths (2012) – had hoped for: “something life-affirming” as Marty puts it. Reviewers of McDonagh’s work, especially of the early plays, sometimes sensed an apparent moral nihilism. In reviewing The Leenane Trilogy in 1997, Fintan O’Toole wrote that “the Ireland of these plays is one in which all authority has collapsed” ...