If Travel + Leisure magazine were to run a feature on the most gruesome lodgings in America, the hotel room in Martin McDonagh’s “A Behanding in Spokane” would surely top the list. Maybe not so much for its decor, although the room’s peeling paint, faded bedspread and mass of grubby fingerprints around the door handle are all atmospheric enough — if the Keegan Theatre’s rather stagy and cheap-looking production of the play is anything to go by. It’s the goings-on in the room that really raise the luridness quotient: By the time McDonagh wraps up his comic and grisly plot, this small-town-America motor inn resembles a flophouse operated by the Theatre du Grand Guignol.
Anglo-Irish dramatist and filmmaker McDonagh is known for the violent and shocking plot twists in plays such as “The Pillowman” and “The Beauty Queen of Leenane.” (His films include “Seven Psychopaths” and “In Bruges.”) He hasn’t changed course for “Behanding,” the first of his plays to be set in America. Premiered in 2010, this archly sinister party-trick of a script — which sometimes feels like a McDonagh self-parody — centers on a racist nut case named Carmichael (Mark A. Rhea), who is rampaging the United States in search of his missing hand. As Carmichael tells it, the mitt was severed in a horrific crime many years ago: So when two kids named Marilyn (Laura Herren) and Toby (Manu Kumasi) turn up, purporting to know the extremity’s whereabouts, a bloody showdown seems certain.