The second of Sean O’Casey’s Dublin plays, Juno and the Paycock tells the story of the Boyle family in the grim slums of Dublin in the early 1920s. Juno, the mother of the family (and the only member who works), desperately tries to hold her family together in the face of adversity and misfortune. However her husband, Jack Boyle, would rather spend his time drinking with his persuasive pal, Joxer, than try to look for work and help the family. When Jack learns that the family is to come into an inheritance, he eagerly anticipates their new found wealth and borrows money from everyone around him to flaunt their new incoming fortune. However, the news of the family’s financial prosperity is short-lived as it emerges that law student, Charlie Bentham, has mistakenly drafted the will in such a way that all of Jack’s cousins have a right to claim their share of the money, leaving very little left for the Boyle family. Bentham flees, leaving Juno and Jack’s daughter, Mary, pregnant with nowhere to turn and the family are destitute once more. When the couple’s son, Johnny, is dragged away and murdered by the Republican soldiers for betraying one of their own, the last nail in the family coffin is sealed. Juno decides to leave her husband and seek a better life with Mary. Tragically, rather than face his demons, Jack Boyle retreats into an alcoholic haze, blocking out the misery of his impoverished, lonely reality.
Juno and the Paycock guide sections