(Charles Isherwood's article appeared in The New York Times, 10/25/13.)
Trouble breaks in great, surging waves upon the Irish family in Sean O’Casey’s classic “Juno and the Paycock,” now being revived with all the requisite big heart and black humor by the Irish Repertory Theater. The waters swirl most strongly around Juno Boyle, the matriarch of a small family barely subsisting in the strife-torn Dublin of the 1920s. And when you first glimpse the careworn Juno, portrayed by the veteran J. Smith-Cameron, you may wonder whether this petite figure with the haunted blue eyes has the fortitude to endure the worst, and then the worse than worst.
OverviewBut make no mistake. Although she may not be built like a stevedore, and has a mother’s soft heart for the foibles of her children, Ms. Smith-Cameron’s Juno possesses a strength capable of withstanding the biggest storms life can bring. In one of the finest performances of her distinguished career on the New York stage, Ms. Smith-Cameron imbues her Juno with a steely pragmatism, but more important an emotional pliancy that makes her more prepared than the rest of her clan to beat back the onslaughts of ill fortune that beset them. She occasionally bends under the weight of grief, guilt and an anger at the “hearts o’ stone” of mankind, but she will never, ever break.