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'The Irish Curse': Big Laughs About Small Penises

The California premiere of the comedy "The Irish Curse"—about Irish men and their (allegedly) small penises—is now playing at the Odyssey Theatre in Westwood.

"The Irish Curse," to put it bluntly (no pun intended), is a play about a support group for men with tiny willies.

The play is set entirely in the meeting, which takes place in a Catholic church in New York. Led by Father Kevin Shaunessy (Joe Pacheco), the group comprises Stephen, an openly gay man (Shaun O'Hagan); Rick, an athletic 20-something from Staten Island (Austin Hébert); a newly divorced Manhattan lawyer (Scott Conte); and Kieran, an Irish immigrant attending his first meeting (Patrick Quinlan).

The men are all certain that "the curse" has ruined their lives and defines their masculinity. The play is an intimate and impassioned discussion of body image, self esteem, sex and love. It's funny and a little heartbreaking at the same time.

With such a gendered topic, I invited a guy friend to accompany me to the show—I was sure we would get something different out of the play. Playwright Martin Casella says the common theme for men and women in the audience is body image.

"Anybody who has something about their body that they don't like can relate," Casella said in a press release. "Women have come up to me after the show and said things like, 'I know just how the guys felt. I have always hated my nose,' or 'my breasts are too small,' or 'I hate my thighs.'"

Just like Casella said, I felt a lot of sympathy and empathy for the guys in the play with body image woes.

 Moreso, it made me think of this blessing that is often attributed to the Irish (at least on needlepoint pillows, greeting cards, and on several Google searches): "Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

My buddy also saw the bigger picture: "It's tough out there trying to meet the "ideals" of the world," he said. "But, you gotta just move ahead — be as proud of who you are as you can, and they told Kieran — be the best that you can be to the people you love. The rest will all fall into place."

Be prepared for some cursing and a generous amount of penis and sex discussion—what else would you expect?

"The Irish Curse" is playing at the Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Boulevard, through Aug. 26. For performance times, visit www.odysseytheatre.org or call 310-477-2055, ext. 2. Tickets are $25-30 and there are several "pay-what-you-can" nights.

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