FINNEGANS WAKE: A DREAM PLAY written and directed by Craig Walker, with Mo Bock, Rosemary Doyle, Kevin Head, Patricia Murray, Esther Barlow, Stephen Sheffer and Mark Hauser. Presented by Theatre Kingston at the Tarragon Extra Space (30 Bridgman). Runs to June 3, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $10-$20, Sunday pwyc. 416-531-1827. Rating: NNNN
like most former english ma-
jors, I own a copy of James Joyce's Finnegans Wake but have never finished it. Too dense. Too strange. Too much feckin work. Now, after seeing Theatre Kingston's lively, bawdy and wonderfully atmospheric stage play based on the book, I might give it another try.
Finnegans Wake: A Dream Play, written and directed by Craig Walker, uses songs, storytelling and imaginative staging to look at the life of everyman Dublin pub owner Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker, or HCE (Mo Bock), his wife, Anna Livia Plurabelle (Rosemary Doyle), their three children and servants.
The play, which takes place over the course of one night, journeys into HCE's unconscious mind, where facts, fictions, myths and mistakes trip over one another in an always entertaining and imaginative way.
Full of literary and cultural winks, the piece is accessible, the storytelling clear and animated, the images memorable, the songs -- some traditional, others penned by Walker -- adding plenty of ambience.
Joyce's modernist tricks -- replaying scenes, a quiz-show set piece -- are more than matched by Walker, who has outfitted one of HCE's sons to resemble Joyce himself, and does some suggestive double and triple casting. Lindsay Anne Black's set uses screens and silent-movie-style titles to create an illusory feel.
The cast, whose Irish accents trip off their tongues, are excellent, Bock exuding the right blend of ordinary charm and humility, and Doyle from the start confidently narrating with the right note of warmth and human understanding.theatre reviews