In the Martin McDonagh play “Hangmen,” set in the 1960s, a mysterious fellow named Mooney turns up out of the blue in a London pub. He describes himself as “vaguely menacing,” but he is also rather coolly charismatic: This is a “spiffy young devil,” as The New York Times’s Ben Brantley put it in his review of the play’s Off Broadway premiere in 2018.
It’s a juicy role and you can see why Alfie Allen chose it for his American stage debut — the play is currently in previews at the Golden Theater. And as dark and twisted as Mooney’s psyche is, the part should feel like a vacation compared to Allen’s eight seasons as Theon Greyjoy, one of the most tragic characters on “Game of Thrones.”
“There is a freedom to Mooney that can be perceived and performed in so many different ways, such is the brilliance of Martin’s writing,” Allen, who had seen a production at London’s Wyndham’s Theater, said in a recent video chat.
Something that came up a lot was music, though Allen laughed when asked if he would ever do a musical. “If somebody thought my musical talents were adequate, then I would definitely give it a thought,” he said. “I think I can sing and I think I can act, but I’m not sure I can dance.”
From the New York apartment that’s his home base for the run of the show, Allen went over 10 items he deems essential as he focuses on withstanding the physical demands of a Broadway schedule. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.
1. Massage Gun I have quite tight muscles, so I purchased one of those at Christmas in anticipation of being onstage in New York. There’s definitely physical aspects to playing this part in “Hangmen” — his posture is sort of upright and slightly rigid so I need my muscles to be in good working order. Theragun is what a 35 year-old-man needs.
2. “Nobody Knows,” T.L. Barrett and the Youth for Christ Choir I usually create a playlist of music for each character I play. I have a portable Marshall speaker — they’re really good quality. I listen to “My Ever Changing Moods” by the Style Council, it just rang true for the character for some reason. And to get out of it I’ve been listening to Pastor T.L. Barrett, whose records kind of resurfaced in the last 10, 15 years. There’s a track called “Nobody Knows” that I’ve been listening to quite a lot.
3. Pineapple Chunks I keep them in the fridge when I’m doing anything onstage. The acidity helps with the throat and the vocal cords, to kind of clear them. Plus I like pineapple. Quite nice.
4. A Photo of His Daughter I’ve got framed pictures that I take with me when I go away for a shoot or to be onstage. I’ve got one downstairs, one up here. I’ve got loads of photos. [Moves camera to show them.] I’ve brought mostly family pieces, nothing I’ve collected — that’s all at home.
5. Apple AirPods If I’m out in the street or on the tube in London — I haven’t done the subway yet in New York — it’s a way of zoning out. I enjoy podcasts but I’m definitely more of a music guy. I don’t really go out to bars and clubs anymore so I just find out about it through other people. Friends will send me music a lot, and just hearing it online, on telly. Spotify is always great.
6. A Painting of His Dog My auntie Maureen did a painting of my dog and gave it to me. She asked me for a picture of him — he’s a French bulldog. She’d already done a small sketch for me and then she did a proper oil painting, which is great. Unfortunately, I couldn’t bring my dog here with me so he is in London, being looked after by a family member.
7. One-gallon Water Bottle I try to drink a gallon of water every day. It’s not easy but it makes me feel so much better. I’ve been trying to be quite militant about that, especially being onstage. I just saw these water bottles online, they tell you which hour of the day you need to drink your water by. And when we get into tech, we’ll be in the theater for 12, 13 hours of the day. When you’re onstage and you’re waiting around for a long time, you don’t want to keep asking people to get you bottles of water.
8. “Just Kids” by Patti Smith “I have only just started reading it. A friend of mine suggested I read it while I was here. I’m definitely a fan of punk and what it represents (or did) but I’m not an expert on Patti Smith’s music. Soon to be, I hope!
9. Ian Wright Arsenal Jersey I’m a big Arsenal fan, and Ian Wright was a legendary striker that we had. He was definitely my hero back then. There’s been a bit of resurgence in the interest in classic football tops so I thought I’d dip into that market and I got one from the 1997-98 season. Hopefully I can pass it down to my daughter, when she’s old enough.
10. Steaming I’m trying to look after my vocal cords and I got this thing called a DoctorVox — one of the other cast members suggested it to me, and it’s brilliant. It looks like a big glass bowl-ish type thing. Then there’s a contraption you put over part of your face, then breathe in and breathe out. I’m yet to really master it.