For many, the name Frank McCourt instantly evokes scenes of abject poverty in Limerick, Ireland, and of a family struggling to hold itself together under remarkably dire circumstances – inspired by McCourt's memoir "Angela's Ashes." Though darkly funny in parts, it is one of the sadder pieces of popular literature in recent memory.

Three years after his death, it is worth noting McCourt was equally adept at rousing humor. Case in point: "A Couple of Blaguards," a two-man play he co-wrote and performed with his brother Malachy McCourt in New York in the mid-'80s and after. The show, revived in recent years at regional theaters across the country, features alternately humorous and doleful tales from the brothers' fascinating lives in Ireland and as young men trying to make their way in the United States. A local production starring Christian Brandjes and Chris Kelly as the brothers McCourt opens Thursday in the Irish Classical Theatre Company's Andrews Theatre (625 Main St.), where it will run through Nov. 18.

"It's set in a pub, and the audience is basically invited to join them in the pub and have an evening of song and dance and music," said Irish Classical director Vincent O'Neill. "Chris Brandjes promises to bring his guitar and his mandolin. So it'll be a hooley. It'll be an Irish party."

Tickets are $34 to $42; call 853-4282 or go to

– Colin Dabkowski