The Odyssey Theatre Ensemble presents the California premiere of a new comedy about guys with "one tiny problem." Andrew Barnicle directs The Irish Curse for an eight-week run tonight, July 7 through August 26 at the Odyssey Theatre in West Los Angeles.
Size matters to a group of Irish-American men who meet weekly in the basement of a Catholic church. The focus of their self-help group? A certain anatomical shortcoming-an alleged Irish trait they all feel has ruined their lives. From its blistering language to its brutally honest look at sex and body image, The Irish Curse is a revealing portrait of how men, and society, define masculinity.
"Some Irish Americans are convinced that the 'curse' is a real thing," explains Casella. "They've been brought up that way and taught to believe it-at least in their heads. When I heard about it, I thought, 'this could be really interesting and even kind of fun-what if there was a support group for this?' I've always believed that the way into a serious subject is through humor."
"It's been enormously rewarding to me that the play appeals to women as well as men," he continues. "Anybody who has something about their body they don't like can relate. Women have come up to me after the show and said things like, 'I know just how the guys felt. I have always hated my nose,' or 'My breasts are too small,' or 'I hate my thighs.' "
"There's a certain amount of guilty pleasure to be had in hearing men open up and talk about themselves and their bodies so intimately," admits Craig Zehms, who produced The Irish Curse at the NY Fringe Festival in 2005, where it received the Outstanding Playwriting Award, and again in 2010 at Off Broadway's SoHo Playhouse. "But there's also a bonding that happens during the play that propels it into something more serious and universal. Audiences come expecting a light comedy and are pleasantly surprised when they find themselves touched by the story and characters."
When the time came to bring The Irish Curse to Los Angeles, Zehms immediately thought of the Odyssey Theatre, where he began his career sharing the stage with now-associate artistic director Beth Hogan in seminal Odyssey productions such as Woyzeck and White Marriage under the direction of Ron Sossi.