As I patiently awaited show time in the Keegan Theatre, I came to a strange realization: The audience members directly around me all had Irish accents, and “bloke” was being tossed around with an unusual frequency. Had I unknowingly stumbled into an Irish-exclusive club meeting? Was I really doing a theater review for the guide or was I being punk’d? Not this time, but the eclectic audience reflected the content of “A Couple of Blaguards,” an autobiographical, humor-packed depiction of two Irish brothers.
“A Couple of Blaguards” is a two-man comedy written by brothers Frank (author of Angela’s Ashes) and MalachyMcCourt. Drawing from their own experiences, the brothers first explore the trials of growing up poor in Limerick, Ireland. Never leaving time for a dull moment, they reminisce about everything from religion to family to Irish culture. The second act switches focus to the brothers’ struggles with jobs and women after immigrating to America. While many of the play’s topics deal with the trials of human experience, stories of poverty and death are routinely balanced with the perfect amount of humor. The story is relatable and hysterical all at once.
The plot of “Blaguards” progresses in a series of vignettes. The two actors impersonate everyone from priests to grandmothers, quickly switching from character to character. These hilarious portrayals, partnered with the script’s quick wit, make “Blaguards” the perfect comedy. In the two-hour production, it was rare for three minutes to pass without the audience bursting into laughter.
The production’s ambiance is essential for its success. There is no flashy lighting or sound effects; the set is minimal. This simplicity adds a homey feel, or perhaps an Irish pub feel, in which to spend time reminiscing. “Blaguards” feels less like a production and more like brothers telling stories to old friends; it is casual and intimate. Suddenly, the audience is clapping along to Irish melodies and cheering the brothers on, and when the actors break character, you feel like you’re in on the joke.
You’ll laugh and then continue to laugh for so long that you’ll forget that you have no earthly idea what a “blaguard” is. Venture down to Keegan Theatre in Dupont Circle to see the production, which continues through Oct. 14.