McDonagh, Martin(məkdŭn`ə), 1970–, Anglo-Irish playwright, b. London to Irish parents. During summer visits he became acquainted with W Ireland, and without any formal training he wrote a series of plays that mainly deal with its culture. In a streak of creativity in 1994, he wrote the drafts for seven plays, nearly all of which have been successfully produced. His black, satirical comedies display an extraordinary talent for storytelling. They feature amoral characters, quick and clever dialog, and acts of violence and cruelty that seem ordinary facets of his characters' lives. His first work, the Leenane trilogy, begins with The Beauty Queen of Leenane (1996), in which a middle-aged woman tortures and murders her mother for ruining her chances to marry and go to America. The trilogy also includes A Skull in Connemara and The Lonesome West (both: 1997). His second group of plays, the Aran Islands trilogy, is made up of The Cripple of Inishmaan (1997), a mordant comedy portraying the suffocating boredom of rural life, The Lieutenant of Inishmore (2000), a farce and critique of terrorism filled with torture and murder, and The Banshees of Inisheer (2000), his only unproduced play. His seventh play, The Pillowman (2003), is set in an unamed country and tells of child torture and murder. McDonagh has also written and directed two films, Six Shooter (2005), which won an Oscar for best short film, and the feature-length In Bruges (2008).
See studies by L. Chambers and E. Jordan, ed. (2006) and R. R. Russell, ed. (2007).