...and Gibraltar as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how hekissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.”
Decidedly joyful, yet complex and emotionally varied, Jocelyn Adema's adaptation and direction of the final section of Ulysses is a vivacious, sensual, and vastly entertaining representation of what has often been considered a lush and impenetrable piece of great literature. Dressed in strongly delineated and frolicky, colourful night clothes (costumes by Beatriz Arevalo) four young women take on aspects of Molly's character and bring theatrical life to an impressionistic text with great physical agility and an energetic aplomb that is infectious from the get go. Molly becomes a playful and intensely driven character as Adema's full bodied blocking, filling the stage and bringing the women together and apart throughout, and her intertwining use of dialogue, allowing the performers ample solo moments of great depth, as well as ensemble vocal variations that simultaneously separate and unite the elements of the psychological play of a single woman becoming many and becoming one.
Jenna-Lee Hyde, Lena Maripuu, Reanne Spitzer, and Annie Tuma perform in front of Arevalo's (set and costume design) spirited and summery backdrop with high energy and emotional depth. By separating the run-on quality of Joyce's Molly, Adema has given her a kind of agency that the original condenses into a tightly packed thought process that, although brilliant and engrossing, becomes something more performative, theatrical and potentially visceral in Adema's hands.
Those unfamiliar, and/or impatient with the freewheeling, narrative 'mayhem'/non-traditional form of Joyce's work may choose to allow the words to wash over them with the poetic substance and the raw, often lyrical emotion Molly embodies. Her past gives her the material agency to move forward with a kind of enthralling abandon, and Jocelyn Adema's treatment of Molly's iconic status, as the 'last word' in Joyce's mega-text, gives audiences a powerful and lively way in which to gain access to the iconic seven hundred page book - clearly exacted into a single character's struggle and celebration as Molly fills the final pages and stages of Ulysses epic journey. This allows Adema, through Joyce's Bloom, to insert a personal and overwhelming melange/message that reveals the character's frankness, her sense of humour, and her physical power as her mind wanders and empowers, in bed, at 3am, through the minds of four women as integral parts of her essential journey - bemoaning one man's demands, eliciting laughter and mixed liberationist import, and taking control of her nocturnal position as someone lounging about and intensely contemplating much of what has come before...in life, love, and elsewhere... _________________________________________
MOLLY BLOOM RUNS AT THE TORNTO FRINGE; HELEN GARDINER PHELAN PLAYHOUSE 79 St George st. July 3 8pm July 5 10pm July 7 8:15pm July 9 4:30pm July 10 6:30pm July 12 10:30pm July 13 8:30pm