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Fertile Ground Diaries: “Hurl” Is A Sports Drama About A Game You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Of course Portland has a hurling team.

It’s difficult to gage the success of the strange and intentionally unfinished beast that is a staged reading.
But if there is a metric, it’s how much you want to see a fully staged version afterwards.
By that standard, Hurl, written by Charlie O’Neill and presented by Corrib Theatre, is a rousing success.  
The title refers to the traditional Irish sport of hurling, which seems to involve a ball and sticks, field hockey-like movements and some jargon that was recited quickly in slightly flawed Irish accents. The rules never become particularly clear, but as with so many sport dramas, what’s happening on the field isn’t as important as what’s happening off of it.
In this case, it’s Musa (Victor Mack), a refugee from Sierra Leone, and Lofty (Allen Nause), an alcoholic ex-priest, and their efforts to carry their hurling team made up of foreigners and refugees to the provincial hurling finals in spite of disapproving traditionalists like the local athletic association chairman. 
Director Tracy Cameron Francis invited members of the Willamette Hurling Club, dressed in full uniform, to provide movement during the play’s game sequences, which offered a tantalizing hint of how the play could come to life in a full staging.
Though the characters are paper-thin and the refugees’ plights are deployed for emotional rather than critical or political affect, the play’s insistence on the transcendent joy of sports spark to life, even with scripts on music stands and the slight participation of the Willamette Hurlers.
With some inventive choreography and full staging that lets the scenes take the breakneck pace at which they’re written, it seems highly likely that the play would, in the words of one of the characters—really fly.