Joyced! tells of an odyssey, narrated by a single performer, chronicling a year in the life of venerated author James Joyce. On top of its profound insight into the life and character of the twenty-two year old Joyce, it gives the audience a vivid glimpse of the labyrinthine world of early twentieth century Dublin, the setting and indeed the subject of some of Joyce’s most celebrated novels.
The performer, Katie O’Kelly, is phenomenally good at keeping the audience captivated for the duration of the play with her mesmerizingly diverse array of facial expressions. She has distinct, often comical, accents and mannerisms for each of her characters. The script, by Donal O’Kelly, is exquisitely written and beautifully descriptive, often mimicking the stream of consciousness style that characterises so much of Joyce’s work.
Of course a sound grasp of some of Joyce’s works, particularly Ulysses and Dubliners would greatly aid one’s enjoyment of the play, as would a comprehensive knowledge of the city of Dublin. There are, moreover, moments of confusion when it is not altogether clear who the narrative voice belongs to. But even those not familiar with Joyce or Dublin are given enough rich description to imagine the grim world of Joycean Dublin, even if they are unfamiliar with it. One could, alternatively, appreciate the purely aesthetic accomplishment of the production: the talented performer; the well-written script; the aptly-chosen music; and the lavishly painted back wall that constituted the set of the production.