Nominally, The Cripple of Inishmaan is about an Irish orphan with a physical disability who dreams of catching a break in the movie industry as a way to escape a dull and often cruel existence in his backwater town. The village’s grim-but-wacky cast of characters (written as grotesquely as any of Van Gogh’s “Potato Eaters” were painted) nicknamed “Cripple Billy” for his uneven gait and crooked hand. If that’s a depressing premise, it says lot about playwright Martin McDonagh’s craft that the story actually takes off in hilarious directions—it’s a pitch-black comedy. In the wrong hands, the script can seem to steer its cast of characters dangerously close to eyeroll-inducing Irish stereotypes; when handled carefully, it’s one of the genre’s most appealing works. McDonagh wrote the screenplays for In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, among other classics, so you can come for the sharp wit, but you’ll leave feeling vaguely beaten down and depressed, and therefore right at home in the grand tradition of the very best Irish stage writing. The play runs Oct. 24 through Nov. 29 at Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. $25–$45. (202) 399-7993. atlasarts.org.