“The artist”™s life is to be where life is, active life, found in neither ivory tower nor concrete shelter”¦” In this case, life can be found playing at the Odyssey Theatre, with Sean O”™Casey”™s classic drama Juno and the Paycock.
Review by Tracy Lynn Schafer
From a sparse tenement house in Dublin, Ireland, in 1922, we find ourselves introduced to Juno (Kitty Swink) and Mary (Lily Garrison – understudying for the brilliant Jeanne Syquia, pictured), the two ladies of the Boyle family. Mary and Juno carry on about the strike which leaves Mary unemployed, the war which leaves brother Johnny (Josh Zuckerman) laid up from an injury received attempting to fight in the name of Ireland, and most importantly the drunken, whereabouts of “Captain” Jack Boyle (John Apicella), Juno”™s husband, and Mary”™s father. When “Captain” Jack finally arrives home he receives a visit from the English solicitor, Charles Bentham (Joe Delafield). Bentham brings news of fortune; a distant relative of Jack has passed leaving the Boyle”™s with a great sum of money. In the light of their newfound wealth the “Captain” begins to spend, spend, spend! – of course with the intention of returning any borrowed money, once his ship comes in. However, as lady luck would have it, said ship is never to be seen and the Boyles are left far worse off than they ever could imagine”¦
Sean O”™Casey is one of the great playwrights of his time and Juno and the Paycock was considered to be his masterpiece. Indeed, it”™s a well-written classic that magnificently combines the power of comedy and tragedy ever so tactfully. O”™Casey simply – yet brilliantly – wrote what he knew and what he witnessed in the world around him. His relevance and observations still strike a chord nearly ninety years later.
As for the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble”™s production of this fine classic: somewhere near the middle, the ball is dropped. Initially, the cast”™s comedic timing is lovely. The performers truly launch the first half of the play straight to the back wall of the theater, leaving me excited to see how the second half might manifest. That undeniable energy, that zeal if you will, gets swept under the stage somewhere in the second half. I sat there waiting for the momentum to shift back, but sadly it never did. As each new character was introduced, my excitement diminished, until finally the players took their bows and I headed home.
While most performances were rather garden-variety, two specific ones really left an impression. Armin Shimerman is an absolute “˜darling”™ as “Joxer” Daly; such a loveable mess. Acting as a sort of sidekick to the “Captain”, Shimerman time and again upstages his cohort. With the combination of his mannerisms and comedic timing, Shimerman not only steals the scenes, but at times, the show entirely. Josh Zuckerman is the gentleman responsible for bringing to life the brother, Johnny. I could not help but focus most of my attention on Zuckerman whenever he came to the stage. While his storyline is compelling, his choices and reactions really lead to a powerful performance. He was charged with a difficult task to create what we might today call post-traumatic stress syndrome, due to the terror of war. He conquered this challenge repeatedly by creating an alternate world for himself, within the alternate world of the play itself. Zuckerman”™s presence on stage felt less like a performance from an actor, and more like the real deal revealed to a live audience unbeknownst to him at all.Â His was a very moving performance.
Currently playing at Odyssey Theatre, Juno and the Paycock closes on Sunday, June 5th, 2011.
Juno and the Paycock
Odyssey Theatre Ensemble
2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd.
Los Angeles, Ca. 90025
Runs until, Sunday, June 5th, 2011
Wednesday, May 18th & 25th, 2011, 8:00pm
Friday & Saturdays, 8:00pm
Sunday, May 15th, 2011, 7:00pm
Approximately 120 minutes, with one 15-minute intermission
$25.00 – $30.00
AEA/SAG/AFTRA:Â $15.00 on Friday
Student/Senior Discount: $5.00 OFF (except on Saturday)
Pay-What-You-Can: May 15th, 2011
Hot Tix at curtain time: $15.00 (cheap!)
Purchase tickets here or call (310) 477-2055
About the theatre:
The Odyssey Theatre Ensemble’s mission remains firm: the creation of new work, the revitalization and re-exploration of classical material, consistent experimentation with the most current developments at the forefront of the “state of the art” in the international theatre world, ongoing investigation of the “process” of creating theatre, and continuing development of new acting, directing, and writing talent via the Actor’s Laboratory, Play Development Program, and Emerging Directors Plan. Ultimately, the institution moves toward the creation of a larger International Experimental Theatre Center, facilitating the crosspollination of artists from different countries, cultures and disciplines, and the exposure of this collaborative work to the Southern California audience.