Joxer Daly Esq. – Bewley’s Cafe Theatre – Review by Frank L.
July 09 – August 04, 2018 – Time: 1pm (doors at 12.50pm)
A New Play by Eddie Naughton, starring Phelim Drew
Naughton has taken the character of Joxer Daly from Sean O’Casey’s “Juno and the Paycock” and placed him centre stage in this reincarnation by Phelim Drew. In O’Casey’s play Joxer is the very essence of a quick-witted Dubliner, not overly keen on work and its dreariness, but ever available for a bit of chicanery in his need for alcohol to help slake his perpetual thirst. The play begins just before dawn with Joxer, groaning and moaning, managing just to emerge from his sleep in an old tea-chest. Needless to say, he is in no hurry as he pulls on a few bits and pieces of clothing. He then lets the audience in on the happenings in his life, including how he stumbled across Captain Boyle, his fractious relationship with his wife Juno and a great deal more beside.
He thinks of the times the British Tommies were around Dublin and a song from him would produce a pint and a ball of malt from a Tommy. He knew how to play to the Tommies’ prejudices with his choice of songs such as “Phil the Flutter’s Ball” and “On the road to Mandalay”. Drew delivers these with all the assuredness of a man well schooled in the music hall. As a result, Joxer’s flexible outloook enabled him to cadge a living when the British were in control of Dublin. He is a man who has thought about things and as a result has an unusual theory as to who the individual was who disrupted the status quo in Dublin, which he delivers with all the confidence of a man who is proud to see the little letters “Esq” appearing after his name. He is not very respectful of Captain Boyle and as for his wife Juno, he has the bitter word. Of course he has a need to be flexible in his opinions in order to ensure that any potential source of free drink is not disrupted. Consequently, his repertoire after independence alters to extolling in poetry the heroes of the national struggle.
Drew is in his element in the creation of Joxer Daly Esq. He is himself the very essence of Dublin. The Joxer, Drew has created, while faithful to O’Casey’s creation is a more complete individual. Like O’Casey’s creation he is not afraid of the big word or the big idea as long as neither interferes with his need for a pint or a drop of the hard stuff. Drew’s Dublin accent is pitch perfect as is his body language. Naughton and he have added depth to O’Casey’s character and this play adds lustre to the O’Casey canon.