, Salem, MA


October 17, 2013

A Couple of Blaguards

Larcom Theatre hosts light-hearted production by McCourt brothers

Jarlath Conroy has appeared in some grim roles lately.

He was an undertaker in the Coen Brothers’ 2010 remake of “True Grit,” and played the gravedigger to Paul Giamatti’s Hamlet at the Yale Repertory Theatre this spring. He was also a tombstone carver in a short film based on a story by W.F. Harvey.

“I’m not sure what the universe is trying to tell me,” he said.

But Conroy will reverse this somber trend when he appears in the Irish comedy “A Couple of Blaguards” tomorrow night at the Larcom Theatre in Beverly, in a production that will run through Sunday, Oct. 27.

The show features reminiscences of Frank McCourt, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Angela’s Ashes,” and his brother Malachy, an actor who also wrote a best-selling memoir.

“It’s a light-hearted piece,” said Malachy McCourt. “I think people do need that. At the very least, people need a chuckle, if not a good laugh.”

Malachy and Frank — who died in 2009 — were born in Brooklyn but were raised in Limerick, Ireland, from an early age. When they were older, they both moved back to New York, where Frank taught school for decades and Malachy worked at manual labor before getting his break on stage.

“A Couple of Blaguards” was originally staged in 1980, in a 100-seat theater in New York, where the two brothers appeared as themselves.

“It was all improvisation,” McCourt said. “We did it a number of times before we actually wrote it down.”

They started to develop the material while “fooling around” one Sunday afternoon in somebody’s living room after dinner, McCourt said.

“Frank and I started off telling yarns about growing up in Limerick and the loony people there,” he said. “The crazy clergy and schoolmasters, and the women who were like matadors with their shawls, shouting at each other in whatever dispute they might be having about somebody insulting somebody about something.”

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