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Joyced!, Hendrick's Library Of Delightfully Peculiar Writings, Brighton, May 26
Katie O’Kelly is a talented character actress. She has a real talent for evoking personalities through facial expressions alone and switched from squawking chicken to hard-drinking Dubliner with an ease and flow few Fringe performers could match.
Indeed, in Joyced!, she brought 22 different people from James Joyce’s novels to life - assisted only by a trunk, a chair, a straw boater and a set of black wings - without fluff or stumble.
Yet undertaking such a Herculean challenge in less than 45 minutes as a soloist made the show a struggle to follow.
The piece was penned by her father Donal to mark the 100th anniversary of Bloomsday in 2004: James Joyce set Ulysses on June 16, 1904. O’Kelly has compressed Donal’s play down, which begs the question - what must the show have been like before?
Those with an academic knowledge of Joyce’s work would have chuckled under their breath as O’Kelly flitted between characters as rapidly as a blinking eye. The casual Joycian reader will have savoured periods of slick prose.
But anyone in the audience with no prior knowledge of Joyce would have been completely lost. The long streams of consciousness reflected the more testing parts of Ulysses where readers switch off or labour through.
O’Kelly said the show aimed to encourage more people to read Joyce. The only problem is it should be done before the show, not after.
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