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Theater Review (San Antonio): ‘The Irish Curse’ by Martin Casella

Man’s obsession with penis size and indeed the alleged influence of the male member on society are the issues taken head-on (so to speak) in Martin Casella’s smart and raunchy comedy now playing at the Carlos Alvarez Studio Theatre at the Tobin Center.

Irish Curse AtticRep

Alejandro Cardona and Lawrence Coop in AtticRep’s ‘The Irish Curse’ (Siggi Ragnar)

Every Wednesday night, a group of Irish-American men get together for an hour in the meeting hall of a Catholic church in Brooklyn to commiserate over their perceived shortcomings. Their unifying problem is the size of their penises and how they feel their lack of endowment has kept them from enjoying complete lives.

There’s twenty-something braggart, Rick (Alejandro Cardona), who boasts that his size hasn’t hindered his popularity with the ladies; rugged gay cop Stephen (Tyler Keyes), who is addicted to anonymous, unreciprocated sex; Joseph (Lawrence Coop), a Southern attorney whose wife left him for a “bigger” man; and Father Shaunessy (Rick Frederick), the priest who sponsors the group but also shares their common complaint.

Their weekly bitchfest is disrupted by newcomer Keiran (Sam Mandelbaum), a blue-collar Irish immigrant, whose natural inquisitiveness prompts the others to consider all aspects of their lives and not to merely allow themselves to be held back by what — or what isn’t — between their legs.

Casella’s one-act is vulgar, crass, and frequently hilarious. It also has some insightful things to say about the absurd control the penis has over men’s lives (including the ability to incite world wars). But the piece also reaches for more profound meaning, as each of the characters reveals his real vulnerability to the others.

AtticRep’s production is pretty close to faultless. Co-directors Robert Prestigiacomo and Seth Larson have the ensemble cast playing off each other brilliantly. Mandelbaum’s earnest Keiran and Frederick’s soulful priest hit the highest emotional notes, while Keyes’ unapologetic manwhore and Cardona’s would-be lothario bring the most laughs. It’s at its best, though, when Casella’s dialogue zings from character to character, as when they run through a high-speed evaluation of the penis sizes of various races.

Fredericks’ set is spot-on, capturing the look and feel of an east coast church hall — and the smell of the coffee brewing in the urn adds an extra touch of sensory depth.

The Irish Curse plays Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. through April 5th in the Carlos Alvarez Studio Theater at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, 100 Auditorium Circle, San Antonio.

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