Playing around with "Paycock"


SEAN O'Casey's masterpiece Juno and the Paycock is being staged at Cork's Everyman Palace theatre in what promises to be an interesting and unusual production.

"This is not going to be a simple naturalistic performance along the lines intended by O'Casey's 1922 setting," says Catriona Chambers of Steeple Theatre Company, which is producing the play.

"Instead," she says, "we intend using a very simple set and costumes that the audience are unlikely to associate with the historic setting. By trying to do something different with this Irish classic - although we're sticking rigidly to the original script - we hope to make the play more exciting and accessible to students and the general public."

The themes being stressed in this production include the futilities and disappointments surrounding the play's historic setting, the loneliness experienced by people living with the consequences of revolutionary times and the resilience and inner strength of some individuals (most notably the Juno character) to face the future and whatever it may bring.

Although it is not yet clear whether there will be post performance workshops where students can discuss the play with its director or others involved in its production - as was the case with the Second Age Theatre Company's successful recent production of King Lear at the Tivoli - the programme will include essays and articles about the play that should be of use to students in their studies.

This production of Juno and the Paycock, which begins today and runs to February 8th, is being directed by actress and lecturer on speech and drama, Regina Crowley. Denis Conway, who has appeared in the Gate and Abbey theatres, is playing "Captain" Jack Boyle.

The title role of Juno is played by Jayne Snowe, who previously worked with the acclaimed Waterford based Red Kettle theatre company and who should be familiar to Fair City viewers. Other roles include Myles Breen as the Dublin chancer and down and out Joxer Daly and Cathy Prendergast as the youthful and innocent Mary Boyle.

Steeple Theatre Company, which is not supported by the Arts Council of Ireland, has achieved previous critical successes with Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and The Merchant of Venice, and J.M. Synge's Riders to the Sea. According to Chambers, the company is committed to producing affordable and accessible theatre, especially for schools.

Tickets for Juno and the Paycock at the Everyman Palace cost £7.50, or £5 to students and the unwaged. Special rates are also available to school groups. For further information, contact the Everyman Palace box office at (021)501673.