The script Haley and Reilly perform so dexterously and with such spirit is beautifully written, at once lyrical and dramatic, and rich in both general cultural observations and particular run-ins around identity and assimilation. Upon meeting Irish-Americans who claim credit for the nation's institutions, Frank wryly notes, "The America I discovered was essentially an Irish venture." He goes on to skewer the romanticizing of the Irish by the non-Irish, by telling of his seduction by a redhead who swoons over him for James Joyce — and who finds that Frank has never heard of the guy.

As befits the brothers McCourt, A Couple of Blaguards is both a writer's and an actor's show, performed by consummate actors in top comic form. As with all richest and most rollicking conversations held over pints, I wanted it to last all night. ^

A COUPLE OF BLAGUARDS | by Frank McCourt and Malachy McCourt | Directed by Tony Reilly, with Corey Gagne | Produced by the American Irish Repertory Ensemble | in the Portland Stage Studio Theater| through April 7 | 207.799.5327

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