James Joyce died in 1941 and the copyright on his work ended 70 years later, meaning there has been a large number of theatrical productions of his work in the last couple of years. This play follows on from recent productions of Dubliners and Ulysses that have been performed in Dublin. With Bloomsday falling this Sunday (June 16th) the streets of Dublin will be filled with Joycean scholars. This new production will catch the full attention of the academics with regard to what they chose to include and what they left out.
The play deals with the formative years of Stephen Dedalus, an alter ego of Joyce. It starts with him as a small child observing the world of adults. Later the emphasis is on the power of the church and how it dominates the young man’s psyche and the feeling of guilt associated with his burgeoning sexuality.
The acting in the play is impressive and some of the scenes are very demanding, such as a biter argument at the table on Christmas day between Stephen’s governess Dante on one side and Stephen’s father Simon Dedalus and John Casey on the other, about the role of religion in society and the death of Parnell. This scene really captures the audience as the full cast face the crowd and bellow their points of view. Another impressive scene is a priest giving a sermon on the perils of a life of sin with hellfire and damnation the consequence. Four of the five cast members play a variety of roles. Lauren Farrell is the odd one out as she plays Dedalus, but even so it calls for a wide ranging performance as she varies from a small child a the start to a man at the end of the performance.
It is clear that a huge amount of thought has gone into this production, as they are aware they are working with an almost sacred text. The direction is inventive and this is another fine display by Jimmy Fay, who directed Quietly at the peacock, which was one of the best new productions in Dublin last year. This is a difficult piece of theatre that never lets you rest on your laurels and demands the full attention of the viewer throughout but is a very rewarding piece for those willing to take up the challenge.
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce is at The New Theatre from Jun 10th – Jun 22nd
@ 7.30pm Tickets: €15/12 conc.
“Joyce’s iconic novel adapted for the stage by Tony Chesterman, and directed by Jimmy Fay.”
All photographs by Al Craig.
Director – Jimmy Fay
Producer – Anthony Fox
Assistant Director – Leah Minto
Set Design – Orla Reynolds
Lighting Design – Cathy O’Carroll
Costume Design – Jessica Dunne
Sound – Shane Fitzmaurice
Film – Neil O’Driscoll
Stage Manager -Lisa Krugel
Set Construction – Fíonn McShane