The Clifton Performance Theatre – the little-that-could is now the little-theater-that-is – after a sold out opening night performance of THE IRISH CURSE. We were packed to the gills in this intimate space and the staff looked thrilled to have to find extra chairs in the storage area for the dozens who filed the tight quarters.
They were not disappointed.
Cathy Springfield has directed this warm comedy all about the insecurity of man. Yes, its full of penis jokes – and most of them are hilarious – but I found myself smiling more at the interplay between the characters in the ensemble piece than I did anything else.
The show opens with “Rick” (Carter Bratton) and “Joseph” (Michael Bath) setting up chairs in the church basement. Rick is bragging about his latest sexual conquest and the very southern and even more gentile Joseph is listening with exasperation. In comes “Stephen,” an undercover NYC police detective who also happens to be gay. And something magical happens. You almost forget you are watching a play as these three begin to take over the basement with their raw energy. I’ve seen Michael Bath on stage several times but never have I seen him play someone this restrained. I knew he was excellent at playing over-the-top characters; who knew he was as good or better at subtlety. Crowley is hilarious and fearless in his portrayal of this sexually addicted still-closeted-at-home homosexual man . . . who also happens to have a very small penis. So does the young, cocky Rick played with gusto by Bratton. And Joseph. They all have the “Irish Curse.” It’s why they are here – for their weekly support group.
Soon Buz Davis enters as “Father Kevin” with a new recruit named “Kieran” (newcomer Pete Wood). He’s actually full blooded Irish – just in America a short time – and he begins to probe these other men with questions about their past, their
problem eh, “situation” and causes them to look at themselves in ways they never have before. Davis was authentic as a priest and given his loud and proud proclamation to me when I met him at A BRIGHT NEW BOISE (which he directed, and did so beautifully) that he was an avowed atheist he definitely shows off his acting chops here. He is good as I’ve ever seen him. Wood has the daunting task of keeping up with four experienced actors but he does a good job of not getting overwhelmed by their combustible energy. Cathy Springfield directs and somehow managed to corral these powerhouses into a true working ensemble group. That’s no small feat.
This show is very funny. It’s also very warm and even a little bit touching. We learn at each man’s struggle – and while their experiences may be exaggerated for effect, it is definitely a play that all men should see. Because its not about the penis as much as it is about the self. So, ladies, this would be an excellent way to get your husband to take you to the theatre . . . and you both might just learn a little more about each other and yourselves.
Who knew a play about penises could do that?
THE IRISH CURSE is selling quickly. It runs through March 15th. Tickets are only $20 and can be purchased online. I’d recommend it, as last night’s crowd stretched the limits of the space and you do not want to be shut out. Plus – it helps them get a good head count ahead of box office opening (30 minutes ahead of show time).