Dubliners Dilemma – International Bar – Review by Frank L
Written and performed by Declan Gorman
Venue: International Bar, Wicklow St. Dublin 2
Dates & Time: Tuesday 20th – Saturday 24th October, daily at 13.00hrs (Duration 50 mins)
James Joyce’s “Dubliners” was a long time in finding a publisher. Along the way Joyce himself wrote a poem in September 1912 entitled “Gas from a burner” which describes some of the difficulties he had encountered with Maunsel & Co in Dublin. An early potential publisher had been one Grant Richards. He was nervous about publishing because he feared it would open him and his firm, given the scandalous content of some of the stories, to prosecution by the powers that be. However about eight years after initially rejecting it, and after the problems with Maunsel & Co., Grant Richards did agree to publish it in 1914. The rest is as they say history.
Although he is a native of Monaghan, Declan Gorman exudes all the charm and shiftiness of a man born and reared on the banks of the Liffey in the heart of Dublin. The central character in this solo performance is “Dubliners” itself. Not so much the short stories but the extraordinary difficulty Joyce encountered in order to find a publisher. Gorman intersperses some scenes from the stories with correspondence between Joyce and Grant Richards who had the courage eventually to publish. It is a clever device as it draws attention to how radical the stories were at the time of their publication. They were referring to forbidden fruit.
Gorman uses minimal props…a table made of two supports comprised of stacks of printer’s proofs of the book, a chair, a box, a walking stick, two hats and an overcoat. He brings to life excerpts from ‘An Encounter’ with characters such as Father Butler, Leo Dillon, Mahony, “Smith” and the sinister old josser. He makes use of other extracts from Dubliners to explain why Grant Richards was so circumspect about publishing.
It is well worth a visit and a good way to spend the lunch hour as it is a fine addition to the canon including Gas from a Burner which surrounds the publication of Dubliners.