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Theatre Review (LA): The Irish Curse by Martin Casella at the Odyssey Theatre

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If you go to the play The Irish Curse by Martin Casella, currently playing at the Odyssey Theatre, don’t expect a harrowing play about the horrors of alcoholism. Nope! But do expect a very funny yet touching play about a different kind of Irish Curse, the purported fact that men of the Irish persuasion are “cursed” with small penises. This play comes to LA from the New York Fringe Festival where the play won the “Outstanding Playwriting Award in 2005.

The play involves three men and a priest, all with the Irish Curse, who meet regularly to share their experiences and commiserate with one another. One is a butch policeman who stresses how hard it is for a gay man to have a small member. He describes his “problem “ as having only a cocktail sausage between his legs. Next is a trainer who brags about all the women he has conquered despite his handicap and the fact that he is married. An attorney shares that he has stopped having any sex with his wife as the way he deals with his problem. Even the priest eventually confesses to having a small penis and the trouble it caused him before joining the priesthood. All these stories have their full laugh quotient, but these stories all have a dark aspect to them.

Things change when a young man, who is Irish, joins their group for the first time. Secrets are revealed and we find out that he is desperate because he is getting married next week. Each man in his turn confesses a heretofore hidden aspect of his life. The gay cop only services other men and doesn’t even know their names. The trainer is married but seems to have negotiated a sex life with his wife, but puts on his studly front so as not to seem less masculine to his buddies. The attorney is extremely lonely; the priest chose the priesthood rather than face humiliation. The newcomer has a secret of his own as to why he has come to the meeting.

The cast is excellent. Joe Pacheco plays Father Kevin Shaunessy; Scott Conte is the self-denying attorney, Austin Herbert is the bragging trainer, and Shaun O’Hagan is the gay cop. Patrick Quinlan is the new arrival and touchstone to the group. Director Andrew Barnacle has gotten great work from his cast. Thomas Walsh has designed an appropriate meeting room inside the church where the action takes place. Playwright Casella manages to get both laughs and a few tugs at the heartstrings. This is a must see performance. The Irish Curse is being performed at the Odyssey Theatre until August 26th

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