Edna O’Brien may be Joyce’s greatest woman: she has used him as a guide throughout her literary career, neither discouraged by his dominance nor disheartened. threatened by his lust. The Abbey Theater and Eilene Davidson production for the Dublin Theater Festival will appeal to an unenthusiastic audience of Joyce enthusiasts; another view of their great hero.
ames Joyce loves women, and many women love him. We meet his mother May, his wife Nora, his daughter Lucia, and his mistress Martha Fleischmann; each made their point as they circled the great man. Dublin street poet Zozimus sings ballads and Joyce’s brother, Stanislaus, provides another perspective, including one from Ireland.
The crushing tragedy of Lucia’s mental illness prevailed. Genevieve Hulme Beaman is brilliant as Lucia, both unmanageable and likable. Her modern dance is beautifully choreographed by Justine Doswell. Nora and Lucia fight fiercely as they each envy the other to protect their special relationship with James. Nora wields the weapon of parental authority; Lucia fought back with frenzied weapons – there was no winner.
Stephen Hogan is Joyce, a man of the flesh struggling with a mentally ill adult child. Bríd Ní Neachtain captures Nora’s pragmatic and ordinary qualities, but without any hint of weirdness.
Conall Morrison’s guide has some great highlights: at one point, the letters begin to fly around the stage, the rich clouds in it billowing. Prostitutes and street women appeared as shadowy silhouettes against the red curtain, jostling for space in Joyce’s mind. There was a breakthrough in the movie for a segment where Lucia was in a mental hospital. The mouth shines on the fragments of Sabine Dargent’s broken replica set creating street voices.
Sometimes the script falls into the trap of exposure, but never so much that it can’t get out. And surprisingly it’s so much episodes. But for all its flaws, it provides a biographical look at James Joyce, his literary achievements juggled with the intensity of his real life. And while Joyce may have fallen in love with all the women represented on stage, the main love affair here is between Edna O’Brien herself and the ghost of a literary hero.
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/theatre-arts/joyces-women-at-the-abbey-theatre-edna-obrien-creates-a-singular-portrait-of-the-artist-42021243.html Joyce’s Women at the Abbey Theater: Edna O’Brien creates a unique portrait of the artist