Martin Casella’s “The Irish Curse” gets its California premiere at the Odyssey Theatre. Though the play is hysterically entertaining, Casella actually accomplishes a tricky balancing act of comedy and drama. A group of five Irishmen explore an often joked-about topic, usually reserved for men’s locker room bantering or conversation while tossing back a few beers, in a Catholic church meeting room. Once the audience understands that the focus of this therapy group is the men’s tiny endowments, the issues and concerns become very serious and complex.
A very abled cast, deftly directed by Andrew Barnicle, vividly demonstrates the goings-on of this self-help group that meets in a Brooklyn Catholic church (props to scenic designer Thomas A. Walsh for his lived-in, woodsy set). The straight and gay characters discuss at length and in explicit detail the various issues they have with being inadequately hung. Each of this talented ensemble (Scott Conte, Austin Hebert, Shaun O’Hagan, Joe Pacheco and Patrick Quinlan) has his individual moment to take center stage, with additional kudos to Hebert for his preening and mature-beyond-his-youth sensibilities as the bragging Ric and O’Hagan as the promiscuous Stephen.
You will leave this effective 90-minute group therapy session feeling sated, and like Quinlan’s newbie Keiran, wanting to return for the camaraderie and support.
—Gil Kaan, Culture Spot LA
Performances continue through Aug. 26, at the Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., LA 90025. Show times are Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. (no performances July 11, 19, 25; Aug. 2, 8, 16, 22), Sundays at 2 p.m. (July 15, 22, 29; Aug. 12, 19, 26) and Sundays at 5 p.m. (July 8, Aug. 5). For tickets, visit www.odysseytheatre.com or call (310) 477-2055, ext. 2.