Quote of the Day: Blessed Virgin, where were you when my darling son was riddled with bullets? Sacred Heart of Jesus, take away our hearts of stone and give us hearts of flesh. Take away this murdering hate and give us thine own eternal love. From Juno and the Paycock by Sean O’Casey, currently playing at The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, the final production directed by long time Artistic Director Joe Dowling.
Juno and the Paycock seems to be Joe Dowling’s signature play as a director. It’s the one that brought him over to the States in 1988 as part of a festival in New York City. He gained the attention of the Guthrie Theater and has been the Artistic Director there since 1995. He will be moving on to other artistic endeavors, and from what I’ve read, we haven’t seen the last of him. While watching this drama, I thought of him, what little I know from reading and interviews, and felt like he was giving us a glimpse of his home country, Ireland, it’s darker days, and a bit of who Joe Dowling is and where he came from. You can read an interview about him in this recent article by Rohan Preston in the Star Tribune. He is no stranger to poverty and the pains of this world.
Juno and the Paycock, written in the early 1920′ by Sean O’Casey, starts out with a meandering pace, as most early literature does. Modern plays tend to start off with a bang, but O’Casey gives us time to get to know the characters and get oriented to the setting. It’s a good time, as an audience member, to sip on the drink you brought in and pay attention to the many details of the set which give you the impression of the sparsity of life, from bound together chairs and worn out rugs to the tin cup that holds their meager funds. Stephen Brennan plays “Captain” Jack Boyle, the Paycock, (like a rooster, or cock) who struts around and doesn’t seem to be able to do much of anything else. His wife Juno, played beautifully by Anita Reeves, is the strong Irish mama who keeps everyone in line, fed, clothed, and earns wages besides. Where would we be without strong mamas like Juno? Their son Johnny (David Darrow) was wounded in the Irish Civil War and is damaged both mentally and physically. Their daughter Mary (Katie Kleiger) is a reader, a dreamer, and probably the most hopeful character in the family. Other characters move in and out with varying degrees of comic relief (Joxer, played by the wonderful Mark Benninghofen), and tragedy (Mrs. Tancred, played by Dearbhla Molloy, who’s son is found murdered). Their neighbor Mrs. Maisie Madigan (Sally Wingert, another twin cities favorite) seems to be there to add levity, with a musical interlude in Act II, and bring out some truths in the situation. While O’Casey writes about the darkness of this world, tragedy that existed then and now, he gives you moments of light and hope, and you can take away the thought that life continues to offer you a new story.
Juno and the Paycock was the first in a double feature theater date with my 17-year-old son. He said he liked the play and was glad he went. Although it’s dark, he felt there were places of light and hope as well. We still have much to learn as we try to survive in this broken world. The second show we saw was The Gospel of Lovingkindness at Pillsbury House theatre in Minneapolis. We saw some parallels.
Juno and the Paycock written by Sean O’Casey, directed by Joe Dowling, is playing at The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, MN through June 28, 2015. You can listen to Joe Dowling talk about the show on an MPR interview. Thanks, Mr. Dowling for bringing so much creative energy to Minnesota. I wish you well.
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt: What gives you hope?