Playwright - Sean O'Casey
Director - Andy Arnold
Company - Arches Theatre Company
Designer - Gordon Davidson
Lighting Designer - Alllan Wolfe
Costume Designer - Lucinda Meredith
Venue - Citizens Theatre www.citz.co.uk 0141 429 0022
119 Gorbals St from centre by subway/short walk(20 mins), bus (12/17 mins) or taxi (10mins)
Dates - 19 - 29 Sept at 7:30pm not Sun or Mon £10 (£3)
Reviewer - Thelma Good
Just after the 1922 - 23 civil war in Ireland O'Casey wrote this play, set during that war in a Dublin tenement flat. Andy Arnold's cast of Irish and Scottish actors make this production resonate, with the effects of last week's attacks making its themes even more sharp edged and troubling. At the beginning callers bring to Juno news of jobs and inheritance but later a knock at the door brings something darker, so much harder to live with.
Alison Peebles gives Juno Boyle a dogged determined steel as the world buffets her - not trodden down yet but oh so limited in her poverty. Her husband "Captain" Jack, the Paycock (peacock), deals with their threadbare lives differently. She tries to keep their heads above water, he just bobs along in the currents - making waves or reaching a secure shore don't interest him. Derek Reid's Jack has such disreputable charm even after we learn he's only been to sea once, in a coal boat! Joxer is his buddy in and out of the boozer, Brendan Morrissey is a remarkably grimy Joxer, rangy, knees out of his trousers. He's the trampish man you bodyswerve if you can, but his blarney may draw you to him.
The Boyles' two children are each idealists in their way. Johnny fought with the IRA against the British and the Freestate, gaining a bullet in the hip and losing an arm, his shambling state almost ignored by his family. Written as a bitter discordant character, in this production Aonghus Weber as Johnny plays only one note, rendering him more infuriating than the bleeding broken heart of the play. Muireann Kelly is an almost luminous Mary, on strike from her work, preparing to go out - despite her brother's experiences she still believes principles are to be stood by. She's reading plays with New Women, A Dolls House and The Wild Duck, in the third act she finds a moving Ibsenlike courage to be truthful.
At the end of act one when news comes that Jack has been left some money there's a wonderful lively Irish jig scene change as for once in their lives the Boyles' get matching furnishing. In the 2nd half of the production is the flamboyant raffish Maisie Madigan, she could almost be Jack's sister. Singing not quite like a mating nightingale but still seductive Joyce Falconer's performance is wild and wonderful, all blackened teeth and swagger.
It's a horrible accident that this production opens as we flail around trying to understand our changed world. The clear direction and overall strength of the production mean that O'Casey's insight filled lines, about patriotism, idealism and the strong human urge to keep on with our lives while others lose theirs, further shake our already shaken spirits.
© Thelma Good 19 September 2001
The other play in Arches Theatre Company 10th Anniversary Season is
The Playboy Of The Western World by J.M. Synge and directed by Andy Arnold with most of the same cast as in Juno And The Paycock.
on at The Arches www.thearches.co.uk
0901 022 0300 253 Argyll St oposite the Argyll St exit from Central Station.
Review The Playwoman of The Western World
Dates - 12 - 27 October at 7.30pm, £8/£4, 2 for 1 on opening night
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