THE Wirral-based artistic director of Liverpool Playhouse is to direct a major production of Sean O'Casey’s Juno and the Paycock in partnership with Bristol Old Vic later this year.

Gemma Bodinetz' cast is headed by Niamh Cusack as Juno and Des McAleer as husband Jack Boyle.

The production will be staged at Bristol Old Vic from September 5-27, before moving to the Liverpool Playhouse from October 1-18.

Hilarity and tragedy rub shoulders in Sean O’Casey’s classic Irish drama set in Dublin 1922. It features his trademark mix of comic double acts, political upheavals, domestic longings, and characters who are never far away from an opulent word or song.

Looking forward to working on the production Gemma, who lives in Hoylake, said: "My passion for the plays of Sean O'Casey began many years ago when I was a student at Trinity College Dublin.

"It seemed to me then, and does still now, that O’Casey’s plays managed to illuminate huge and timeless political questions through the prism of ordinary human experience and do so with tremendous wit and humanity."

Juno's world is in the grip of change for and her peacock of a husband – a daughter flirting with marriage and politics, a civil war outside the door, a son wounded and hiding from the conflict.

Gemma continued: "Perhaps most movingly Juno and the Paycock addresses the impossibility of creating national order and unity in times of poverty and civil unrest through the story of a Dublin mother living in a tenement slum.

"With Niamh Cusack playing the eponymous heroine, Des McAleer as her feckless husband along with a distinguished ensemble, I could wish for no finer cast to do justice to this masterpiece of Irish theatre."

Tom Morris, from Bristol Old Vic, said: "The Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse is an organisation we've wanted to collaborate with for some time.

"In Bristol we share a passion with Gemma Bodinetz and her Liverpool team for the profound and brilliant play Juno & the Paycock.

"Both port cities have a strong historical connection with Ireland, and the play is set in the very specific world of that country's post-war clinch between inescapable poverty and violent ideology.

"I am proud that we are able to open the show here in Bristol and can't wait to see the fruits of the creative journey."

Niamh Cusack is well-known for her role as Dr. Kate Rowan in ITV series Heartbeat.

Des McAleer plays her husband, Captain Boyle. McAleer has appeared in the feature films Hunger, My Week With Marilyn and Angela’s Ashes.

Gemma Bodinetz has been artistic director for the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse since September 2003.

She has directed Twelfth Night, Macbeth, The Kindness of Strangers, The Mayor of Zalamea and Intemperance at the Everyman, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Lady of Leisure and All My Sons at the Playhouse and Yellowman on tour.

Gemma previously worked at the Royal Court Theatre and Hampstead Theatre, London.