If I hadn't seen One Man Two Guv'nors at the Lyttleton in the last 12 months I would be wondering whether it is the theatre itself that somehow taints my enjoyment of plays I see there. Certainly, the National Theatre's second performance space doesn't get any awards for comfort and view (irks me tremendously to be on the third row and spend the entire evening shifting in my seat to see around the person sat in front of me).
The one thing that never fails to impress are the sets and calibre of the acting which leaves the play, perhaps, being the thing.
Sean O'Casey's Juno and the Paycock has all the right ingredients for a compelling and interesting play: an impoverished Irish family one day discover they are to inherit some money from a distant relative. The family is also a rich mix of individual stories.
Matriach Juno (Sinead Cusack) is the put upon bread winner, cajoling and bullying in turns, husband Captain Jack Boyle (Ciaran Hinds) who is work shy and would rather be drinking with his pal Joxer (Risteard Cooper). Daughter Mary (Clare Dunne) works but is on strike, devours literature and has turned down an offer of marriage to take up with a trainee lawyer Jerry Devine (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor). And son Johnny (Ronan Raftery) is physically crippled and haunted from fighting the English for the IRA and lives in fear of reprisals.
*potential spoiler* A cash injection is just what the family needs and the play follows their rise and then fall with tragic consequences.
And it should be both gripping and funny but it falls short of being either. There is a bit of a language barrier as it's written in a rich but sometimes unfamiliar Dublin vernacular so that while you get a sense of the characters it is difficult to get a real insight.