Saturday, 5 September 2015

From the Archive: Bloomsday in Melbourne 2010

On Mon, Jun 21, 2010 at 12:46 PM, Koan <koan@alphalink.com.au> wrote:
Thank you for entry into the inner rooms of our psychic otherworld.
 
Once more Melburnians were privileged to see and hear the Joycean words exposed, turned over, made multi-dimensional and amplified in whole new ways. We absorb the words as though for the first time. Sometimes I really do wonder if any other Bloomsday or Joyce theatre comes close to the variety and depth of the Melbourne brand, still going strong after seventeen years. It extends the novels in ways that continue to be original, provocative, informative, and fun.
 
Circe is one hell of an episode, to paraphrase Ernest Hemingway, and burlesque is an ideal vehicle. I liked the way the audience was taken from the comfort zone of the bar room and its jolly sing-song atmosphere into the sudden uncertainty of the madhouse, as witnessed in the ballroom theatre. Disintegration of identity is a fright, but Carnival of Vice implied that this is happening in a society that cannot or does not take responsibility for its own hopelessness. The opening scenes make the brothel itself not only bearable but an actual oasis of sanity, even though we are left with the unsettling sense that these worlds connect intimately.
 
The phantasms seemed real enough to me. The guards are down in Tyrone Street Lower. What was in denial earlier in the day walks across the centre of the stage in Nighttown. When it doesn't crawl. Despite appearances sometimes, the actors were on a tight lead. 
 
Bloom is central and the Director did well to keep him literally in the centre of the stage for most of the show. Everything happens to him, but he also makes things happen. Tingwell was a sympathetic Bloom, able to play the changes well. Part of the genius of this character is how Joyce can make his sublime moments ridiculous and his ridiculous moments sublime. He can be knowing and naive, wanton and wistful, but always with his full emotional life available to the viewer. By keeping Bloom's state before our eyes, the rest of the action could never go out of control or lose momentum. I enjoyed all the performances, there was clearly a great deal of fun in production. The show revealed just how much Joyce uses all his human resources to further accentuate Bloom, everything leads in one way or another back to him. Van Oosterom played the most juvenile Stephen I have seen in Bloomsday, someone quite at odds with his surroundings and its implicit and explicit menace. It was an interesting and useful contrast to the Stephen we sometimes meet, the university student who is altogether too clever by half.     
 
The whole show was a great success. Congratulations to all for a well-conceived version of Circe that is highly memorable.
 
This year's seminar was very well received. Joy Damousi gave us a superb encapsulation of the movement of thought in and around the time of Ulysses regarding sexology and its even more sophisticated outcome, psychoanalysis. This dovetailed well with Frances Devlin Glass's paper on the literary mechanisms of Circe and Joyce's interest in and resistance to the new sciences of the mind. An informed and confident audience contributed many further ideas to the mix during Questions. There followed a delicious dinner at La Notte, where readings on sensuality became increasingly more salacious. Then it was back to the Trades Hall for the evening performance of the main piece.
 
Some people just can't get enough.
 
Thanks again for a great day.
 
Please forward to committee and performers.

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