Sam Sacks writes the Fiction Chronicle for the Wall Street Journal and is a founding editor at Open Letters Monthly.


Sean O’Casey’s Women

Mary Mallen, James Russell, J. Smith-Cameron, Ciarán O’Reilly, Terry Donnelly, and John Keating, the cast of Juno and the Paycock, the Irish Repertory Theatre

Director Charlotte Moore’s new production of Juno and the Paycock in the snug Irish Repertory Theatre negotiates the play’s difficult balance between farce and pathos with mixed success. The men are a motley assortment of loudmouths and knaves. Ciaran O’Reilly plays Boyle as a garrulous mixture of Falstaff and Ralph Kramden, while John Keating vividly brings out Joxer’s rodentine hypocrisy. Ed Malone is the pitiable son, Johnny, who lost an arm in the war for independence and mutters hollow bromides about principle, and James Russell is the foppish theosophist Charlie Bentham.


Juno and the Paycock

On the NYRgallery, Sam Sacks writes, “Through a series of classic narrative reversals—a vanished inheritance, an abandoned fiancée, an act of political vengeance—what starts as a rollicking lowbrow comedy becomes a bitter, deeply moving tragedy.”