…the Keegan Theatre has given us the charming and avuncular Timothy Hayes Lynch and Robert Leembruggen as the charming and avuncular Frank and Malachy [McCourt]. If they aren’t likeable, or if they don’t seem like brothers, there’s no show. But this affable pair easily persuades you of their shared lineage, and two hours in their warm company passes quickly.
We’re spared the wrenching depiction of their impoverished boyhoods that made Frank’s book so heartbreaking. While we hear all about hardscrabble life in Limerick between the wars, where their house was situated near the town latrine, the tone remains breezy. The day Frank takes his first communion in the Catholic church, necessitating repeated visits to the confessional booth, becomes a memorable set piece.
When the army ships him to Germany as a young man, Frank meets a woman who begins his literary education. Malachy’s own path, returning to the U.S. (he was born in Brooklyn, but taken back to Ireland at age three) as a young man and bouncing around various jobs, dominates the play’s second half.
The set and costumes, by Mark A. Rhea and Emily Riehl-Bedford, respectively, are modest; they simply support the notion that we’ve happened upon these guys whiling away a rainy afternoon at a bar, and they’ve found a willing audience on the stool next to theirs.
You could do lots worse.