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Center Stage: ‘A Couple of Blaguards”

By Staff | Nov 23, 2011

Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!

Do not under any circumstances miss the entertaining show “A Couple of Blaguards” currently causing a laugh riot at the Herb Strauss Theater. You don’t want to miss this” twice told tale about a pair of Irish rascals,” which closes this weekend Nov. 26.

I have just returned from an amazing trip to the “emerald isle” where the people are full of fun and devilment, the food fantastic and the country truly magical. I saw the city of Limerick where most of the play takes place and found it as charming as the people who live there. So “A Couple of Blaguards” was exactly my cup of tea.

*Blaguards according to the theater program and Webster’s definition are: scoundrels, also villains; but according to the two main characters, the McCourt brother’s definition: blaguards are: charming, lovable rogues. The latter meaning as played by splendid actor Jarlath Conroy / Frank McCourt and marvelous mummer Howard Platt/ Malachy McCourt, is right on the money; these two fine performers invest their characters with a wicked, wry charm that is wholly winning.

This musical vaudeville, two man show, is a sort of “barroom review” about. “two Irish siblings and scribes Frank and Malachy McCourt collaborating on putting together a program of song and storytelling about their hardscrabble Limerick childhood”.

In “A Couple of Blaguards,” the brothers McCourt, Frank and Malachy bring their two best selling books “Angela’s Ashes”, and “A Monk Swimming” to the stage as they split the telling of their story by describing their real lives as they lived them.

The First Act begins as a kind of storytellers, cabaret revue devoted mostly to Frank’s reminiscences of an impoverished upbringing in the seedy side of Limerick, Ireland which he related in his best selling book “Angela’s Ashes”. But fear not, the humor is all in the absurdities of growing up under the thumb of their maternal trinity— Mother, & Grandmother McCourt, Mother Catholic Church and Mother Ireland. They were raised by all of these “all important”, Mothers because as the two explained, their Dad got an “Irish Divorce” , in other words, dad disappeared.

The first segment focuses on their memories of childhood going to movies where the usher forbade them to cheer for “divorced movie stars, or Indians, the tale further tells about going to Catholic school, learning all that catechism to take “first communion” where the Host (the body and blood of our Lord) gets stuck to the roof of your mouth; (you Catholics know what I’m talking about).

Catholic school is an educating system where they kick you out just for thinking or asking questions, which is exactly what happened to the McCourts; which brings us to the Second Act as they grow up and emigrate, to America.

Frank has all sorts of misadventures as bumbles from job to job soldier, bar tender, school teacher, canary keeper (where he messes up because he glued the dead birds to their perches to deceive the boss) .His big turnaround happens when a girlfriend makes him read the Irish writers,

He discovers his rich Irish literary heritage helping him find his voice and inspiring him to write his best selling book “Angel’s Ashes”.

Meanwhile, Malachy discovers “show biz” and his gift of gab pays off as he trades in his Irish ness on TV talk shows, sit coms. and soap operas.

The script is fast moving and furious fun, the set is minimal, the Direction by Actor/Director Howard Platt is right on target, the acting by the two outstanding performers Jarlath Conroy and Howard Platt could not be better, So what more could you ask, than this 90 or so minutes (with intermission) of Irish fable, fun and frolic with a nip of the Blarney to enchant?

So friends and neighbors jig on down to the Herb Strauss Theater or better yet get your tickets by calling the Box Office at 472-6882 or you can now buy on line at

www.BIGARTS.org. Just remember when you jig, call or email, tell ’em Marsha sent you.