Fringe review: Molly Bloom

MOLLY BLOOM by James Joyce, adapted by Jocelyn Adema (Fourth Gorgon Theatre/Fringe). At the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse. July 7.


MOLLY BLOOM by James Joyce, adapted by Jocelyn Adema (Fourth Gorgon Theatre/Fringe). At the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse. July 7 at 8:15 pm, July 9 at 4:30 pm, July 10 at 6:30 pm, July 12 at 10:30 pm, July 13 at 8:30 pm. See listing. Rating: NNNN

Jocelyn Adema has taken on the seemingly impossible task of adapting the final chapter of James Joyces revolutionary 1918 novel Ulysses for the stage. That chapter in stream-of-conscious style follows the thoughts of Molly Bloom as she lies next to her husband Leopold and tries to sleep.

Ademas approach is to present Joyces richly allusive prose as a choral poem. Jenna-Lee Hyde, Lena Maripuu, Reanne Spitzer and Annie Tuma form the outstanding ensemble under Ademas tightly choreographed direction. Mostly they speak as individuals but sometimes they speak in unison, especially when Mollys key word Yes regularly surfaces, representing her assent to all that life has given her.

Adema might have chosen to divide Mollys words among three performers to suggest Mollys thoughts about her childhood, adolescent and present life, since Joyce has these thoughts mingle and play off each other. Instead, Ademas four performers enact the text simply as the differing voices echoing within a single persons mind. Adema artfully extends words into movement as the four performers separate and regroup just as Mollys thoughts do.

Those who know Ulysses best will get the most out of what Adema has done with the text. But Ademas staging should help even those who dont know the novel to recognize in Mollys sexually frank thoughts a potent portrait of one womans meditations on the weakness of men and the power of womankind.

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