It's no wonder the table has suffered. The actors approach their work with gusto.

"I vaguely remember the first time I did this play 10 years ago, feeling that I might be paying for this in eternity," Osborne said. "It's not what a good Episcopalian boy should be doing. But I got over that. Jordan and I can't stop giggling when we do it. It's just stupid boy-fun."

Brown agrees.

"It's like being given permission to bash every plate in the kitchen," he said.

The actors are well aware of the audience when the assault begins, particularly those within bone-shard range.

"We have hit a few people up to about the sternum," Osborne said, "but it's not a heavy or painful hit. We know with pretty certain confidence that the skulls can't hurt anybody. But the bone fragments are a completely different story. We get hit more from that than the audience, sometimes in places you wouldn't want it to go."

The performers have worked diligently on their smashing technique.

"With the skulls, Si taught me to go straight up with the arm and bring it straight down to get the explosion," Brown said. "One time, only a fragment broke off; that skull was pathetic-looking. And a piece of pelvis whipped up once and hit me in the tooth, but it didn't hurt me."

Although the performers laugh heartily about all of this, Osborne does acknowledge a little discomfort.

"One thing creeps me out," he said. "It's the exhuming business, pulling out the skull with some hair left on it. That still gives me the willies. And seeing Jordan playing with two skulls, juggling them in front of him like [breasts]. I'm thinking, 'You're going to do time in hell for that.'"

tim.smith@baltsun.com

If you go

"A Skull in Connemara" runs through March 4 at Center Stage, 700 N. Calvert St. Tickets are $10 to $45. Call 410-332-0033 or go to centerstage.org.

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