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Ulysses

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
4 stars
It’s taken almost twenty years for Dermot Bolger’s free dramatisation
of James Joyce’s life in a day tale of Leopold Bloom’s travails through
Dublin’s underbelly to have life breathed in it via a full production.
For director Andy Arnold too, one gets the heady sense that his
exquisitely realised production is the climax of a love affair with
Irish letters which began in his early years of running The Arches.
Because, as we follow Bloom into the slow-burning languor of a red
light district of the mind, this looks like one of the best things
Arnold has done.

Charlotte Lane’s big wooden set on which the floorboards slowly wind
into themselves like a serpent suggests Bloom might just be walking
round in circles. As drink gets the better of him, Stephen Dedalus and
the thrusting Blazes Boylan, the day takes a turn into a woozy,
libido-driven dream-state. In this way, Bolger’s adaptation both
grounds Joyce’s wilder excesses in the everyday, yet also allows the
situations to take a walk on the wild side. This is done via a form of
ensemble narration that allows Jean-Paul Van Cauwelaert’s Bloom full
vent to his At the heart of all this, sprawled on an iron-bed full of
post-coital promise, is Bloom’s vivacious spouse Molly, played with
gusto to the last by Muireann Kelly.

The best thing about this is the time Arnold and co take to do it. For
sure there’s a prat-falling physicality to Alan Greig’s fine
choreography that’s so integral here, but, rather than run away with
itself, is allowed to linger in a city which comes panting and yearning
into full-blooded life. Oh, yes, indeed.

The Herald, October 17th 2012

ends

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