Preview: The Irish Curse at the Garden Theater

  • Rainer Ziehm/hellopz photo
By Columbus Alive
From the March 15, 2012 edition

Leprechauns aren’t the only things that are small in Ireland, apparently. The idea of “the Irish curse” is that men from the Emerald Isle get the, ahem, shaft in the size department.

Martin Casella’s play “The Irish Curse” follows a therapy group for Irish-American men who believe they don’t stack up. Using a mix of funny euphemisms and more frank language, the five group members disclose to each other how their tiny members have hurt their confidence and caused insecurities.

“They’re there to help themselves, so it’s more than locker room repartee,” explained Matt Lenz, who’s directing the Short North Stage production.

Lenz is a Broadway director — his resume filled with big-time productions such as “Hairspray” and “Catch Me if You Can” — who directed both the world premiere and the Off-Broadway version of “The Irish Curse.” That Short North Stage, the newest major player in the Columbus theater scene, snagged him for a perfectly timed Irish-themed comedy suggests that the company will have no problem continuing its run of sold-out productions at the Garden Theater.

Despite differences in structure, Lenz said that “Irish Curse” does for taboo men’s topics what “Vagina Monologues” did for women.

“‘Vagina Monologues’ breaks down the barrier, puts it all out there and says, ‘We’re having this conversation.’ Once that barrier has been broken, all bets are off,” he explained. “In that way, and in tone, it’s like ‘Vagina Monologues.’”

The play provides a forum for a group of men to have a conversation about their shortcomings. For men in the audience, Lenz said, the discussions on stage will be refreshing, and women will be privy to men’s thoughts normally only expressed during therapy sessions.

“What’s touching is that all of these guys, their lives have been affected by it,” Lenz said of the characters’ stresses over size. “It’s gotten in their heads.”

But that’s not just a danger for those with wee willies.

“Everybody’s got something that they wish were different,” he said, pointing to people who find fault with their bodies when there really is none. “If we’re not careful, that can affect our lives.”