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A Couple of Blaguards 

The accents are real and the comic timing seamless; too bad about the clichés

Wednesday, Oct 6 2004
Frank McCourt, in case you haven't heard, is Irish. So's his brother Malachy. By my distracted count, this revue is the second musical production a McCourt brother has written on the subject, following up their memoirs (Angela's Ashes and 'Tis by Frank, A Monk Swimming by Malachy). A Couple of Blaguards revisits their lives on a dirty lane in Limerick, where, as one of them says, "If ya live long enough, ya leave school at 13 an' get a job as a messenger boy." Howard Platt and Jarlath Conroy play Frank and Malachy, respectively, running through a variety show of songs, comedy skits, and old stories -- pints of Guinness in hand -- about the authors' hardscrabble boyhoods and subsequent lives in America. Conroy and Platt are thorough professionals, which is to say the songs are tight and felt, the comic timing seamless, and the Irish accents real. But the show also wallows in hoary Irish clichés, from priests and sadistic schoolmasters to village gossips and a grandiloquent mayor. It has the exact atmosphere of an Irish souvenir shop. One nostalgic song about the McCourts' past is even called "Barefoot Days" -- which might pass muster at an old boys' reunion but falls short as original theater.


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