The Bronx's original Irish theater company, Poor Mouth, is back this week with six new short plays collectively titled “Puttin’ On Your Shorts” at An Béal Bocht on 238th Street in the Bronx.
“Some of them are written by people we've had plays from before and some of them are brand new to us,” Don Creedon, one of the founding members alongside Colin Broderick and Stephen Smallhorne, tells the Irish Voice.
“The first new play is by playwright Derek Murphy, a new comedy about a couple. In this particular story, a crisis develops when one partner develops a secret passion for the poetry of W.B. Yeats. He has to read the poems when he's in the toilet because he knows when his wife discovers what he's at a whole crisis will ensue.”
It's a lot of fun in other words, and it's followed by a striking one-woman piece written by Kate Gill, an Irish American playwright who has written what Creedon calls “a very somber piece” about a woman dying of cancer.
“It's about coming to terms with it because you're just been told that it's terminal, that it's only a matter of time,” explains Creedon. It will star Irish actress Katherine O'Sullivan, who is always a dependably brilliant actress.
“Talk about contrast,” adds Creedon. “What I try to do is ensure that it's not all comedy.”
That piece will be followed by “A Doll's Mouse.” “It's not to be confused with Henrik Ibsen. It's actually a wacky new piece about a girl who gets dressed up to work with tourists in Times Square, the type of performer who walks around half naked after they paint their bodies,” Creedon says.
In the short, one of the girls joins a dating service because she's fed up of being proposed to by the wrong guys. But the dating service turns out to be run by another street performer (who dresses up as Mickey Mouse) who does this kind of dating service on the side.
“So he invites her to avail of his services, which he actually runs out of the back room of a Starbucks just off Times Square. It's very New York,” Creedon says.
Next up is a play by Seamus Scanlon called “The King of Galway” which involves a father and son. The father has been the king of local crime lords for many, many years and now the son is vying to take hold. It's a confrontation between the two of them.
“I think it's very well written,” says Creedon. “I love the language. It's, you know, it's kind of dark and f***ed up which is how I described a lot of Seamus' stuff.”
Next up, a new play by Michael Fitzpatrick, who has written a piece set on Bowery about two homeless Irish women who have been on the streets for a long time and are not doing very well.
“I find it very funny and tender at the same time,” says Creedon.
The final play on the night is by playwright Brona Crehan and will star celebrated Irish actress Jo Kinsella, in a one-woman piece.
And as usual, calling these pieces shorts is a terrific understatement. The truth is that between them they often represent some of the smartest and most hilarious new Irish writing seen onstage anywhere.
But although all three of the founding members are Irish, they want to make it explicitly clear that Poor Mouth is not an Irish theater company, as such because anyone is welcome to participate and stage a piece. In the process, they always lifted the lid off the creativity that finds its home in this legendary venue in Riverdale.
An Béal Bocht Cafe is worth the trip uptown in itself. Here you'll be made welcome in a way that is genuinely unique in the five boroughs.
“Puttin’ On Your Shorts” will play on Thursday, October 4 and Saturday, October 6 at 8 pm, and Sunday 7 at 2 pm. Tickets are $20 and are available at An Beal Bocht Cafe and BrownPaperTickets.com.