Patrick Quinlan, Shaun O'Hagan, Austin Hebert, Joe Pacheco, and… (Ron Sossi )
This show could make for a seriously awkward first date. “The Irish Curse,” Martin Casella’s boisterous comedy now at the Odyssey Theatre, focuses on a purported anatomical issue for Celtic males — and we’re not talking about their stomach for Guinness.
In set designer Thomas A. Walsh’s evocative parish hall, a group of New Yorkers gather for a support group dealing with micropenisia: Stephen (Shaun O’Hagan), a strapping gay cop; Joseph (Scott Conte), a divorced Southern lawyer; wired braggadocio Rick (Austin Hébert); and their moderator, Father Kevin (Joe Pacheco).
When new guy Kieran (Patrick Quinlan) shows up, he functions as an expository device for the regulars to confess their shortcomings. Prepare yourself for imagery involving baby corn and troll dolls.
Casella’s play could be smarter; you could imagineLouis C.K.taking this material down a very dark rabbit hole indeed. But certain moments sing, like the frenzied sequence outing every myth about ethnicity and endowment -- a desperate exorcism of the “size matters” cliché. Like an Apatow bromance, the play’s verbal explicitness covers a deep (and universal) vulnerability. “I’d sell my soul for 7 inches,” sighs Stephen.
“Curse” may be a play about insecurity, but director Andrew Barnicle’s staging has real confidence; tonally, it’s near faultless. The interplay among the men is fast and funny, with Pacheco quietly anchoring the outsized performances of his secular mates.
Sure to launch a few private post-show discussions, “The Irish Curse” is a shower, not a grower. As a sort of male “Vagina Monologues,” it may not go to great lengths, but then it doesn’t promise anything it can’t deliver.
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“The Irish Curse” The Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sundays. Ends August 26. $25-$30. Contact: (310) 477-2055 or www.OdysseyTheatre.com. Running time: 90 minutes.