Monday, August 20, 2012

  L to R: Joe Pacheco, Patrick Quinlan, Austin Hebert, Shaun O’Hagan, Scott Conte

The Irish Curse, continues through September 16, 2012 at the Odyssey.  It is a fine, fine play. 

Contrary to the publicity hype, that seems to promote the show as a comedy, I found it more dramatic than I'd expected and though presented with good humor, it is much more. 

We find five men:  A cop, tall and handsome by his own admission, Stephen (Shaun O’Hagan);  Rick (Austin Hebert) the feisty Irish 22 year old kid; Joseph (Scott Conte), an attorney in his forties and newcomer Kierin, from Ireland (Patrick Quinlan), a virgin who’s afraid his bride (he'll be married in two days) may reject him because of his diminutive size

 Father Kevin Shaunessy (Joe Pacheco) is the 50 year old Catholic priest who runs an AA type session for men with the "Iris Curse:"  colloquially:  a tiny penis.  What Martin Casella’s dialogue does beautifully is to defuse the embarrassment of penis terms, along with a healthy smattering of curse words that are inappropriate but effin’ necessary in the meeting room of St. Sebastian's Catholic Church.  It’s a rainy night in Brooklyn and these men, who alternately love and hate, reject and respect one another, come together to find new insights into their mutual concern: how to regain and/or maintain self respect in the face of a society that apparently places great value on the size of a man’s penis.

Casella’s script is way more than cock jokes.  As we are made privy to the private lives of the four members of the group we discover the fears which dominate their egos, that, in a patriarchy, are so fragile.  The coincidence of Father Shaunessy’s bumping into Kieran, brings new life to a group that has become somewhat jaded to the ongoing issues that have been hashed and rehashed, while the good Father tries to rein the rhetoric in.  The characters are superbly written, beautifully defined, well arced and professionally acted. To his credit, Director Andrew Barnicle moves his actors minimally, but after all it’s really only exposition.  Bantam rooster Rick in the big cop’s face, after admitting that he, Rick, stuffs his jock strap with a rolled up tube sock, is about as confrontational as it gets. The dialogue and the action such as it is, never stop flowing. At once the characters are sometimes confrontational and often funny. Even the priest makes confessions regarding his reductive member which affected his decision years ago to join the clergy.

We discover the 'issues' that these men face because of embarrassment and teasing and how self esteem can be challenged by their individual size situations.  Yes, size does matter, no matter what they think women think.  It matters to them.  A lot.  The real stand out in the dialogue is the new guy, Kieran.  The angst and issues of the newlywed-to-be surface more deeply as he tells of how the ‘curse’ effected his da and how in a similar scenario of his finding his his way to this group,  his da found another accepting group years before.  Perhaps Casella is promoting serendipity or chance, maybe even fate, but what we have here is an hour and a half where we forget the sniggering about the size of anyone’s cock or Johnson or mushroom or pee pee and gain believable insights into strong feelings harbored deep within five exceptional yet average guys on a rainy night in Brooklyn. 

The play has been extended...   through September 16, 2012

The Irish Curse by Martin Casella
The Odyssey Theatre
2055 S. Sepulveda
LosAngeles, CA 90025
Tickets $30 Top 
310 477 2055 Ext 2

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