By R. Crockett
If you are looking for an intellectual ride, you'll get a rollercoaster trying to keep pace with this blazingly fast song and soliloquy production based on that great classic, Ulysses by James Joyce.
Ulysses, packed with literary allusions and innovative syntax, is viewed by some as a great and others as completely impenetrable. I suspect a poll on the audience for this show would yield the same results.
Anna Zapparoli plays Molly Bloom, the wife of Bloom the advertising salesman, in this ambitious one-woman show. Zapparoli is perfect as the bawdy, sexually explicit Molly, sprawled across a grand piano.
The hour and ten minute musical is primarily based on the last chapter of Ulysses, where Molly spews out a tirade of thoughts, lusts and longings over lost time. With songs with titles titled 'Rap of Spunk' and 'Song of the Big Hole' it offers a no-holds barred view of the ups and downs of her former love s and runs the whole gamut of emotions. Zapparoli attempts to get to the root and soul of Molly's psyche and she very nearly pulls it off.
Zapparoli and her musicians are slick, but the whole show comes across as dated. Joyce's stream of-consciousness was cutting edge, Ulysses' salacious prose saw it banned in the UK and America when it was published in 1904. There is nothing about this show, however, that shocks. Nothing that pushes the audience to the limit. Joyce has become a cottage industry for academics pretending to understand him, trying desperately to put a new twist on his writing. This, in truth, is just another tired attempt.
You have to praise Zapparoli for her stamina in pulling of this 90 minute Joyce stunt. She did, however, struggle with the frenetic pace of the whole thing, leaving the audience breathless in her wake. There is little doubt that many poignant moments were missed because of it.
In anticipation of this the programme compilers have listed the characters mentioned and sketched briefly their relationship with Mary [sic]. This was a helpful addition to enable non-readers to keep up.
Joyce himself said "I've put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant, and that's the only way of insuring one's immortality". If you want living proof, this show is it.