The Blaguards set at the Royal George

The set at the Royal George in Chicago

Blaguards' duo has gift of blarney

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The Winter Garden - Toronto

Howard Platt and Jarlath Conroy are mesmerizing in

A Couple of Blaguards.

There's something about the Irish. When it comes to dispensing blarney, you can't beat the Celts love of manufactured romance.

Somehow in the best of Irish writing there is a painful point where the warmth of recollection meets the truth of recognized pain.

Take all those wonderful plays of Brian Friel: with their passionate love of homeland they are tragically intercut with remembrances of lonely Dublin or Limerick nights. Always too there is a fascination with the wealth and charm of America, usually understood through the magic of Hollywood film. Take all those shameless, sentimental songs -- Danny Boy to Mother McCree. They resonate, of course, with cries for a beloved country, forsaken in favour of gold-paved American streets.
Put all this together in some half-lived, half-imagined Irish-American story, and what do you get? A Couple of Blaguards of course, an ingenious and loving recollection by those imaginative playwrights Malachy and Frank McCourt.
In their salty theatre piece, now mesmerizing audiences nightly at Toronto's Winter Garden Theatre, the McCourts stand onstage, larger than life, re-created in ingratiating performances from Jarlath Conroy and Howard Platt. With a table, two chairs, and a pint of Guinness each, these spritely leprechauns create a dizzy world of recalcitrant Roman Catholic schoolboys, gossiping kerchiefed crones and snivelling self-righteous priests.

It's wonderful entertainment, richly laced with laughter and borne aloft by two outsized, quixotic performances that would charm the socks off any self-respecting leprechaun.

With some large blow-ups of busy New York standing on one side of the Winter Garden stage, and several of lovely Limerick balanced on the other, a whole world of characters are set prancing through appropriate landscapes.

As we follow the McCourts, best known for their memoirs -- Angela's Ashes and A Monk Swimming -- we understand something of the Irishman's need to tell tales. A whole society of dreamers, wastrels and tug-at- your-heart tricksters propel us into a welcoming world of romance.

Conroy and Platt are so good at conveying the hearts and minds of the rascally McCourts that they take what might be a simply pleasant evening of Irish poetry, recollection and song, and turn it into fully fleshed drama.

This quixotic entertainment sits nicely in the intimate landscape of Toronto's attractive Winter Garden, where you never feel far from the stage.

After that baleful Korean opera The Last Empress and the entertaining but obviously make-believe musical The Rat Pack, the folks at Mirvish Entertainment have finally struck gold, giving us a real theatre piece to explore. I loved every moment of it and would willingly have sat through more.

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"... Blaguards" breaks Box Office Record
American Stage Theatre
St. Petersburg, FL


The following two reviews tell why!

A Couple of Blaguards is a blessing on local stage. Bless yourselves and go.

You'll feel like you've known 'em
since your barefoot days by the River Shannon
Check 'em out.


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Daily News


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New York Post


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