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Men under the microscope

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AtticRep / ‘The Irish Curse’

Men under the microscope

Those who insist that size really doesn’t
matter are not among the Irish-Americans
whose shortcomings are revealed in the
men’s locker room. At least, that’s the
premise of Martin Casella’s “The Irish
Curse” (2005), subtitled “a comedy about
guys with a tiny problem.” Skillfully directed
by Seth Larson and Roberto Prestigiacomo,
it is being presented through April 5 in the
Carlos Alvarez Studio Theatre of the Tobin
Performing Arts Center, courtesy of AtticRep.

Apparently there is a widely-held belief that
Irish men have small penises, at least that is
what prompted the playwright to create the
touchingly funny piece. The setting is the
basement of a Catholic church in Brooklyn
Heights where a small support group for
such men meets weekly.
Being underendowed has caused all manner of psycho-social difficulties and hangups for them. At least, that is what they all believe. After hearing their stories, however, the audience may view that as oversimplification.

Top-notch performances are turned in by all five cast members, who interact with unforced, persuasive ease. Lawrence Coop brings dimension to a sort of twitchy middle-aged lawyer who claims his wife of more than 20 years left him – and their two children – for a better-endowed man.

Alejandro Cordona plays Rick, a student of sports medicine who has a loving girlfriend at home but claims to hook up with lots of women until he finally admits
that he is lying, although he does pad his tighty whities. Tyler Keyes is effective as Stephen, a gay cop with a foul mouth who refuses to be on the receiving side of his many brief encounters in order to hide his source of embarrassment.

The group is mentored by amiable Father Kevin (well-drawn by Rick Frederick, with what turns out to be a telling nervous laugh), who brings a newcomer to the meeting on this particular night. He is Keiran Riley (Sam Mandelbaum, using a credible Irish brogue), a native-born Irishman from Dublin who is about to be married but has never slept with his fiancee because he dreads letting her see his wee willy.

Ah, yes, those euphemisms. Who knew there were so
many ways to express the small size of one’s member? In
one riotously funny scene they all loosen up and shout out
descriptions or comparisons, loudly and gleefully. There
are also enough feel-good clichés to make you shudder,
e.g. “When you say the (hated) words out loud, they lose
their power.”

Mr. Frederick’s basement set design is a realistic jumble
of boxes and crates, holiday décor and assorted religious
figures, along with a few tables and portable chairs.

The play is essentially a comedy, but there are enough
provocative moments to broaden the definition. One of
the final lines says it all, “The curse is letting it define
your life.

Diane Windeler

“The Irish Curse” runs through April 5 at the Tobin Center
for the Performing Arts.


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