Dubliners – Smock Alley – Review
by Gearóid O’Byrne
Smock Alley Theatre 9th – 24th June 2022 7.30pm
Today, the 16th of June, being Bloomsday, it is particularly appropriate to be writing a review of the current production of “Dubliners” by Corn Exchange and Smock Alley Theatre. James Joyce’s original book of fifteen short stories about individuals in Dublin was first published in 1914 and has been a favourite since, particularly the short story “The Dead”. Many of the characters in Dubliners later appeared in minor roles in Joyce’s novel Ulysses.
This new contemporary production by the Corn Exchange and Smock Alley Theatre, directed by Irish Times award-winning director Annie Ryan, is reconfigured from the 2012 production for Dublin Theatre Festival. The adaptation by Annie Ryan & Michael West is presented as part of the Bloomsday Festival 2022.
Eight of Joyce’s fifteen short stories are presented in this production, namely: “An Encounter”, “Eveline”, “Two Gallants”, “The Boarding House”, “A Little Cloud”, “Counterparts”, “A Painful Case” and “The Dead”. The ensemble cast includes many new faces, with Timmy Creed, Emma Reid, Cillian Lenaghan, Alex Murphy, Gabriel Adewusi, Leah Minto, Fiona Browne and Sadhbh Malin, all playing multiple roles across the different stories.
This outstanding production is deftly adapted from the book, expertly directed and exuberantly acted. Although written over 100 years ago, the human condition has not changed in the interim and there was a warm sense of familiarity with the characters depicted and the personal crises revealed.
For those who know Dublin, the descriptive aspects of the various peregrinations mentioned covered many familiar and well-loved streets and neighbourhoods of Dublin that have only superficially changed in the interim. The direction was excellent, fast-paced where required and skilfully detailed in bringing out sparkling nuances of the various characters and settings.
There were as many moments of humour as there were of pathos, with no opportunity missed. Indeed, sometimes it was hard to know which character to focus on, in case one missed a momentary gem from another!
The cast was superb, and gave it their all, accordingly it feels unfair to single people out from such a great team effort, but I would have to particularly mention Alex Murphy as Little Chandler, Fiona Browne as Mrs Mooney, Timothy Creed as James Duffy and Cillian Lenaghan as Farrington. The set and props were simple and effective, the costumes excellent and the lighting and sound without flaw. The audience loved it, rising to their feet in a well-deserved standing ovation at the end.
For those who think Joyce as difficult, perhaps having tried and failed to read “Ulysses” in the past, this production reveals his work as eminently accessible and familiar to all. Go see it if you can!
“Dubliners” runs at Smock Alley Theatre Dublin from 9th – 24th June 2022 at 7.30pm.
DIRECTED BY Annie Ryan
SET DESIGN BY Sarah Bacon
COSTUME DESIGN BY by Sarah Foley
LIGHTING DESIGN BY Eoin Winning
SOUND DESIGN BY Lara Gallagher
Running time 120mins including 20 min interval.