Schenectady, N.Y.- Limerick, Ireland in the 1930s. There was little to laugh at for Brooklyn-born Frank and Malachy McCourt, hardscrabble sons of a shiftless alcoholic who dragged his Depression-era family across the Atlantic from bad to worse.
But laugh, they did.
A Couple of Blaguards, which comes to the GE Theatre at Proctors Sept. 26-Oct. 5, is the boisterous barroom autobiography of the renowned sibling authors. First produced in New York in 1985, Blaguards was the comedic springboard for Frank's instant classics Angela's Ashes and 'Tis, and Malachy's A Monk Swimming.
Driven by the same humor, poignancy and insight that fueled their famous memoirs, Blaguards-called "wickedly funny" by Time Out New York-offers both the kick and the satisfying sweetness of a steaming Irish coffee.
The two-character play-peppered with music and reminiscences of relatives, rogues and fools-follows the trials of the young McCourts in poverty-stricken Limerick, and their journey back to Brooklyn where they learn to incorporate the day-to-day lessons of their hard Irish past. A story of immigration, triumph over hardship and the love between family, A Couple of Blaguards is a bracing and hilarious theatrical event that aims for the heart.
"Malachy stood behind the bar and told his customers stories," Frank McCourt said of the play years ago. "I stood before the blackboard and told my students stories. At holiday gatherings we told our families stories. They said, ‘Why not get together, cobble these stories into a script and tell the world.'"
"This show is the result of Frank and myself listening to the stories of our elders," Malachy concurred, "which in turn tunes the ear, the eye and the tongue to observe and give voice to even the most trivial of events. I think we had more fun than anyone writing and performing Blaguards, which has become an affectionate term for the rowdy outgoing and sometimes drinking sort of boys. If you don't have a good evening, you should have yourself checked to make sure you haven't died during the day."
At Proctors, Sanford and Son regular Howard Platt, who has a long association with Blaguards as producer, director and star, plays the role of actor/pub owner Malachy; lauded Irish actor Jarlath Conroy-the voice of Grand Theft Auto IV's Aiden O'Malley- plays older brother Frank. Platt directs.
A Couple of Blaguards is at the GE Theatre at Proctors for two weekends, Sept. 26-Oct. 5. 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Proctors, 432 State Street, Schenectady, (518) 346-6204, www.proctors.org. Tickets, $20-$45. Mature content.
Proctors & Capital Repertory Theatre
518.382.3884, ext. 181