Dublin Theatre Festival | Dubliners | The Corn Exchange and Dublin Theatre Festival
Star Rating: 5/5
Review by: Lauren O'Toole
Venue: The Gaiety Theatre
Adapted by: Annie Ryan and Michael West
Cast: Derbhle Crotty, Mark O’Halloran, Barbara Bergin, Janice Byrne, Jack Hickey, Stephen Jones, Mark Lambert, Nick Lee, Gus McDonagh, Ruth McGill
2012 is the year that Joyce’s works have come out of copyright. As a result there has been a flurry of theatre companies anxious to tap into the writer’s rich narrative and range of characters, inspired by his native city and land. None, it could be argued, has been more hotly anticipated than Corn Exchange’s adaptation of Dubliners – a collection of short stories set in Joyce’s fair city which lends itself incomparably well to the theatre company’s signature style of highly dramatic commedia dell arte.
The production begins on a tantalising note with the ten strong cast emerging onto the shadow strewn stage amidst the first few notes of Conor Linehan’s haunting score. Hardcore Joyceans should approach with caution – all fifteen stories from the collection are not included in this adaptation, and those that do feature are often highly exaggerated for dramatic and comic effect. Nonetheless, Joyce’s voice rings true through Annie Ryan and Michael West’s interpretation of these vignettes showcasing Dublin in the early part of the twentieth century. Beginning on a strong note in The Sisters and ending in a spectacular emotive depiction of The Dead, the pacing and transitions dictated by the directors is matched only in excellence by the skill and diversity of character displayed by the cast.
Mark O’Halloran leaves a particularly lasting impression – morphing from the disturbingly sinister old man in An Encounter to regretful lover in A Painful Case until ultimately taking on the near iconic role of Gabriel in The Dead. While most of Corn Exchange’s Dubliners is underpinned by its high energy and humour, The Dead is fittingly sombre, beginning as it means to continue, with Ruth McGill’s mesmeric rendition of The Lass of Aughrim in the role of Greta. The dimly lit hotel room in which Greta shares intimate stories of long ago with her husband is illuminated only by candlelight and the glow of the projected snowflakes at the window, creating an atmosphere which ought to please even the staunchest Joyce enthusiast.
Dubliners is wonderfully performed, hilarious and moving in equal parts – without doubt a festival must-see.
Story by EI Team | 09:00 | Sunday 30th September 2012 | Theatre