The Orlando Theatre Project continues its 20th-anniversary retrospective with an ebullient restaging of its 2002 hit comedy, A Couple of Blaguards by Frank and Malachy McCourt. The two-man entertainment, based on the lives of a pair of ne'er-do-well Irish brothers who both made good as immigrants to the U.S., once again stars the fraternal team of Kristian and Doug Truelsen, two of O-town's most accomplished thespians. The years have only increased the proficiency of the Truelsens' performances. Both turn in masterful portrayals of the McCourt brothers themselves, as well as a gaggle of bilious Irish priests, stern schoolmasters, double-talking politicians and Monty PythonÃesque neighborhood biddies. As soon as the lights come up on Tom Mangieri's inviting pub setting, the Truelsens immediately whisk the audience away to mother Ireland and its small-minded, small-town universe of Limerick, where the McCourt brothers grew up on the decidedly wrong side of the tracks.
Using only the most modest of props and costume pieces a cane, a hat, a handkerchief, a tablecloth but with protean expertise and practiced style, the brothers Truelsen lovingly recreate the McCourts' childhood world of hard knocks and austere Catholic upbringing. A change of voice and demeanor is all that is needed for younger brother Doug, for instance, to morph from a pulpit-pounding parson to an outrageously malapropian mayor to the boys' overbearing and ultra-religious grandmother.
In Act Two, the dual confessional continues. Only now, the brothers share their grown-up lives of odd adventures and blown opportunities (seasoned by the occasional lucky break with work, women or the acquisition of knowledge) on this side of the Atlantic. Overcoming their benighted pasts, both manage in time to carve out impressively successful careers for themselves in America Frank as a teacher and Pulitzer Â¹PrizeÃwinning author; Malachy as an actor, radio personality and best-selling author in his own right.
The Truelsens are evidently still enjoying the entire affair, and their jovial attitudes are infectious. As they down their dark beers, they offer up an evening of fascinating autobiography dappled with snippets of song, a few quick two-steps and the mandatory larder of darkly humorous one-liners. ("We're Irish … we come from a long line of dead people.") If you're thinking of spending some time in a friendly neighborhood watering hole, you could do a lot worse than to join these two blackguards, pleasantly passing your night away under the spell of their blather and blarney.
A Couple of Blaguards
Through Jan. 29
Orlando Repertory Theatre