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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Monday, March 30, 2015

Theater Review - Juno and the Paycock

Juno and the Paycock
Written by Sean O'Casey
Directed by Ben Barnes
Where: Thompson Theater at the Roselle Center for the Arts
(University of Delaware, Newark, DE)
When: Sunday, March 22, 2pm
Photos and images from the REP

Seeing as how this play has already ended its run, I will keep things short and sweet here.  The University of Delaware's Resident Ensemble Players are back for their fourth production of the (thus far disappointing) season and the group's success at performing Irish plays is a trend that fortunately continues with Juno and the Paycock written by Sean O'Casey.  Taking place over three acts, the play starts as a rather humorous slice of life comedy about a bickering husband and wife and their two grown children, but gradually shifts into something much more serious.  While I found that the play didn't quite have the visceral dramatic impact it was likely hoping for, it's by far the best play the REP has put on this season.
With simplistic, yet extremely effective scenic and costume design by Linda Buchanan and Andrea Barrier, respectively, helping to bring the audience into the action onstage, director Ben Barnes gets this wonderful ensemble of actors to hit the play's humorous and tragic notes.  Most successful in the cast is Stephen Pelinski as the titular paycock (aka "peacock") and Boyle family patriarch Jack who'd rather slum around all day than work.  When Jack comes into a bit of money following a family member's death, Pelinski milks O'Casey's words and staging for all their comedic worth.  Quite frankly, Pelinski is perhaps the most undersung member of the REP ensemble of actors, consistently breathing new life into all of the characters he portrays, fully inhabiting them and making you completely forget who he played in the last REP production.  Kudos to him for his always stellar work.
Nice turns here also come from REP member Kathleen Pirkl Tague as the beleaguered Juno and guest performer Erin Partin as the liberated daughter Mary.  If we're not going to ever get students back into this company (which is a darn shame considering this is a university setting and students haven't been a part of the productions in two years), let's breathe a bit of fresh life into the ensemble with Ms. Partin next season (who always brings a youthful curiosity and vigor to all her roles).

Needless to say, it's a pleasure to see the REP back in better form with Juno and the Paycock.  Here's hoping the trend continues with their final two productions of the season.

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