Monday, 5 November 2012

Tron Theatre's Ulysses

Ulysses was the first show I picked from the Belfast Festival brochure, and was at The MAC Belfast.  I haven't read Joyce's original. I have however studied Homer's Odyssey in depth, and love it so much I read it over and over again.

Joyce's Ulysses mimics Homer's Odyssey, and this play is based on Joyce's Ulysses.  I could have read Ulysses, or looked up Wikipedia to see what Joyce's story was about, but I decided not to.  I thought it might be much more interesting to watch a play which is effectively the reception of a reception of the famed epic.

With zero knowledge of Joyce's Ulysses, and given it's 'I started it but I couldn't finish it' reputation, I knew this was going to make for an interesting experience.  Actually the only thing I did know about Ulysses is that Dervla Kirwin's Jewish ancestor is in it! (Who Do You Think You Are?)

Ulysses has 18 chapters which correspond, often oddly, to episodes in Homer's Odyssey.  To say that I followed every parallel would be a lie, but I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to relate a lot of the scenes back to the original.  I particularly enjoyed the scenes relating to the Lotus Eaters (Martha's letters), Nausicaa (Gerty's immodesty) and Circe (Bella's Brothel), though there were many gasps to be heard from the audience in the latter scene...

The set conjured up the many different settings of Bloom's Odyssey around Dublin and the lighting beautifully accented it.  The actors were all strong playing over 80 characters and I thought all in all this was a well put together production, particularly for such a complex story.  I did feel at times that some of the audience was a little lost, but I guess that was to be expected. I freely admit to having been a little lost at times too.

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