Ulysses

I have the utmost respect for this stage production, which succeeds in drawing out the story and comedy of one of the most daunting pieces of 20th century literature without marring or making a foul attempt at the genius of the text.

Necessarily, to make it more apt for the stage, rather than presenting the constant internal monologue of Bloom's ponderous misery, they have deviated from the stream of consciousness style. However it is brought into the production at moments to emphasize Bloom's enormous enjoyment of simple pleasures, like food. This paralleling of Joyce's style provides something of a window into how to appreciate the humour of Ulysses.

There is less of the frustrated intellectual Stephen Dedalus and Buck Mulligan gets what feels like only a fleeting glance. However this serves the purpose of allowing the sensual Mrs Bloom a constant presence, with the marital bed always on stage, often with Molly lounging in it. This is a fantastic touch, drawing attention to what really occupies Bloom's mind and the looming adultery of his wife. In Joyce's Ulysses she is only truly given voice in its final chapter, but the play injects little snippets of Molly in between scenes, frequently undermining her husband or pining after a man or two.

Nausicaa, featuring young Gerty Macdowell, is a memorable passage in the novel and fantastic start to the second half of the production. Little could be more explosive than sexual frustration and public exposure, performed to hilarious perfection.

Running throughout the production, much as its lyrics weave through the book, we enjoy music from the choir of Blazes Boylan, Molly's sleazy lover. The repetition of 'Those lovely seaside girls' is one of many loyalties to the art of Joyce, which make this production feel like a celebration and tribute to the work rather than a mockery. Ulysses is above all a hugely entertaining tale and an excellent piece of theatre.

Performances

The Blurb

While his wife Molly waits in bed for the infamous Blazes Boylan, Leopold Bloom is in Dublin conversing in pubs, graveyards, brothels and finally home. Bawdy and hilarious, Ulysses celebrates Joyce's genius for depicting life in all its profundity.