March 20, 2013

AIRE ratchets up the roguish with 'A Couple of Blaguards'

The American Irish Repertory Ensemble will present the brothers McCourt's ribald comedy beginning Thursday and continuing through April 7.

By Bob Keyes
Staff Writer

At the risk of playing into stereotypes, Tony Reilly says the reason his Irish theater company decided to wait until after St. Patrick's Day to open its next show is pretty obvious.

click image to enlarge

Paul Haley and Tony Reilly star in “A Couple of Blaguards,” the comedy by Irish literary stars Frank and Malachy McCourt.

Courtesy of AIRE


WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 8 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday; 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Through April 7.

WHERE: Studio Theater at Portland Stage Company, 25A Forest Ave.

HOW MUCH: $10 for opening night. Other performances cost $20 ($18 for seniors and students) on weekends, and $15 on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

INFO: 799-5327;

"We realized from past experience that Irish people do not like to go to the theater on St. Patrick's Day. There are other things they want to do," he said.

Instead, the American Irish Repertory Ensemble will present the brothers McCourt's ribald comedy, "A Couple of Blaguards," beginning Thursday and continuing through April 7. Corey Gagne serves as co-director.

The play is a biographical comedy by Frank and Malachy McCourt, as the author-brothers share childhood memories from Limerick and their experiences in America. Although it feels like improv, the play does have a script. There's just a lot of latitude in its interpretation.

Reilly and Paul Haley play multiple roles. They also do a fair amount of singing and dancing.

The dancing part leaves Reilly a little flustered. When he was a student at The Juilliard School, his dance instructor wrote, "Tony has no natural rhythm. But we're working on it."

"We're still working on it," Reilly said with a laugh. "But Paul is a great physical comedian. He compensates for my lack of dancing skills."

Before the McCourts made their mark as writers -- Frank most famously for "Angela's Ashes" and Malachy for "A Monk Swimming" -- they toured around with this show, stopping in pubs and small theaters to tell stories and sing songs.

It's a lot like having your two Irish uncles over to the house for a few whiskeys, Reilly said.

"It's really just a lot of fun. It's me and Paul just being very silly together," he said. "As comedians, we're kind of different. I am big and loud. Paul likes to be like a surgeon. I'm a butcher. It's really fun when the two of us get together and perform."

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or:

Twitter: pphbkeyes


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