Juno and the Paycock Bristol Old Vic, from 5th September
For sheer rage, joy, delightful characters, good plotting, musical language, jokes and political banter, there are few plays to match Sean O’Casey’s Juno and the Paycock, the tragic centre-piece of his great 1920s Dublin trilogy, set in a bustling city tenement block.
These are the difficult, edgy days of the Troubles after the civil war. The play is prophetic about the sectarian violence of the 1970s but it is as much about, too, the resilience of the working-class people involved, the battles they fought, as the reprisals to come.
There’s a reading of a will (an old Edwardian theatrical device) at the centre, but the play’s heartbeat lies in the triangular relationship between Juno, her husband Captain Jack Boyle, and Boyle’s comically diffident sidekick, Joxer Daly, the two of them finally sprawled on the kitchen floor telling each other that the whole world’s in a “terrible state of chassis.”
Juno used to be a staple of the repertoire, so it’s good to see two of our leading regional theatres, the Bristol Old Vic and the Liverpool Playhouse, working together on a play rarely seen in these days of rather unadventurous programming. Gemma Bodinetz’s production, which stars Niamh Cusack as Juno and Des McAleer as Boyle, starts in Bristol and moves in October to her home patch of the Playhouse, which she also runs with the newly refurbished Liverpool Everyman as part of her dispensation as artistic director.
Ballyturk National Theatre, from 11th September
This play by modern Irish master Enda Walsh places two of his brilliant Cork colleagues, Cillian Murphy and Mikel Murfi, in a room of dreams and desperation. Walsh and Murphy last collaborated on the astounding one-man play Misterman, which visited the National Theatre last year. You can expect something weird and totally original.
Little Revolution Almeida Theatre, from 26th August
This new work by “vox pop” specialist Alecky Blythe is the fruit of her ground-level attendance (with dictaphone) at the London summer riots of 2011. This is Blythe’s first new work since the ground-breaking musical London Road at the National Theatre. She herself appears in a large cast with Ronnie Ancona, Imogen Stubbs and…