special effects, sfx makeup, custom props, costume fabrication





Written by Irish playwright Martin McDonagh, this dark comedy takes a very violent approach to a non-violent message. It attacks the absurdity of war and revenge and violence through a story about an Irish terrorist who’s cat has died and his bloody streak of revenge that leaves the island of Inishmore covered in blood. Tolin FX first created the special effects for this show for Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre, directed by Stuart Carden. We have since been invited to work on 15 additional productions across the US and in Peru, including Berkeley Rep, directed by Les Waters, Northlight Theatre, directed by BJ Jones, and La Plaza ISIL, Directed by Juan Carlos Fisher. Tolin FX has become the go-to fx makeup studio for creating the special effects for this very complicated blood orchestration.


This is a very complicated show technically. It requires executing film special effects for a live audience. This means that everything must be consistent and reliable. If the fx don’t work, there is no second take. This includes 5 characters who sustain gunshot wounds. Safety is always the main concern, especially with a live audience. So, explosives are out. We had to develop a system that didn’t use pyrotechnics to fire our bullet hits, and so Squib FX was born. Squib FX are air powered devices that create the illusion of a gunshot impact with no pyrotechnics- invented by Steve Tolin. They took several months of development before they worked well enough to use in the PICT production and we’ve spent years refining and improving the design through so many productions of Inishmore as we’ve done, but also on many film, TV, and theatre projects as well.  We now sell these rigs all over the world as Squib FX.

There are also the dismembered bodies of 3 splinter group terrorists that demanded film quality because of the proximity to the audience and because these characters were just alive on stage moments before. So with each new production of the show we would lifecast new actors and make replica bodies. Each production also had a unique stage set design, which meant we had to help devise unique ways of getting full dismembered bodies on stage in a 30 second blackout. And then they had to be chopped up more on stage. Each production would block this however they wanted and we would make it possible to repeat the dismemberment night after night consistently.

There are also several cats in the show. The alleged Wee Thomas who we meet at the top of the show demands an articulated cat prop with its head smashed in. Then a ginger cat named Sir Roger, half covered in black shoe polish, is shot in his cat carrier! Finally at the end of the show SPOILER ALERT!! Wee Thomas is not actually dead. The play asks for a live cat and many productions tried. Some succeeded, most failed, and one drugged the cat but I’m not naming names. But more often than not, we were asked to build a cat puppet for the end of the show, which was one of the lead characters and had to react and be alive on stage.


  • FX Makeup
  • Blood and Squib FX
  • Puppet Making


FX Makeup Dept Head

Steve Tolin

FX Makeup Technicians

Chucky Hendershot

Doug Fairall

Christopher Patrik

Matt Jackson