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Yes! Reflections of Molly Bloom
"Penelope" is the sprawling final episode Joyce's modern reimagining of Homer's The Odyssey. Part paean to love, part bill of complaint, Molly's soliloquy is a quite fitting capstone to this masterpiece that was 15 years in the making and a continuation of Dubliners.
Set in Molly and Bloom's Dublin bedroom it begins the forty-something Molly wakeinb up in the wee hours of June 17th, 1904, shortly after her husband Leopold has returned home. She has never patterned her life by the clock and now, in an almost hallucinatory state-of-mind, she lets her untamed imagination take wing.
Her ruminations include the peaks and valleys of her life: There's her steamy courtship and now hum-drum marriage the me man she's nicknamed "Poldy". . . the affair with the conscienceless Hugh "Blazes" Boylan. . . the death of newborn son Rudy that ended ended her sex life. . .recollections of nursing her 15 year-old daughter Milly (and her husband too nursing at her painfully overfull breasts). There are also musings over the future of the sensitive young writer Stephen Daedulus who intends to teach her Italian — and of course her own youth and growing up in Gibraltor.
Dressed in a long white nightgown Moloney dives into the monologue with passion and verve. she inhabits Molly with a curious mixture of bravura and wariness. She lets Joyce's poetic language inform and shape her facial expressions, physical gestures, and intonation of her lines.
While Joyce's language is the thing here, there's also some gorgeous music interspersed during the beginning and end of the soliloquy by Paddy Moloney (Yes, he's one of the Chieftains and also the father of Aedin Moloney).
This stream-of-consciousness soliloquy derives its strength from its cumulative force. However, Molly speaks most pertinently to the audience when she airs her sentiments about the dual genders and uncannily anticipating our #MeToo movement: "I don't care what anybody says; it'd be much better for the world to be governed by the women in it! You wouldn't see women going and killing one another and slaughtering. Sure, they wouldn't be in the world at all only for us."
Charlie Corcoran's set looks like an avant-garde exhibit at MOMA, the small stage filled with geometric shapes that do double-duty as furniture and acting platforms for Moloney. Michael O'Connor's protean lighting illuminates Molly in her every-changing moods. And Leon Dobkowski's rightly outfits the insomniac in a simple white nightgown.
A caveat: Yes! isn't for everybody. A promotional blurb on the Irish Repertory's homepage suggests that audience members be at least 16 years-old, given its sexually-explicit language and nudity. It also might be boring to anyone drawn to more action. In fact, Joyce's own brother Stanislaus, a gung-ho enthusiast of most other episodes of Ulysses, was bored and repelled by "Penelope" (he also disliked "Circe"). Still this page-to-stage adaptation is a rare opportunity to see a chunk of Ulysses meticulously dramatized.
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Yes! Reflections of Molly Bloom
Adaptation by Aedin Moloney and Colum McCann of "Penelope" from James Joyce's novel Ulysses
Directed by Kira Simring
Cast: Aedin Moloney (Marion "Molly" Bloom).
Set: Charlie Corcoran
Costumes: Leon Dobkowski
Sound: M. Florian Staab
Lighting: Michael O'Connor
Stage Manager: Jeff Davolt
Irish Repertory Theatre at the W. Scott McLucas Studio Theatre, 132 W. 22nd Street. Tickets: $45 and up . Phone 212-727-2737 or online at www.irishrep.org.
From 6/07/19; opening 6/13/19; closing 7/07/19.
Performance schedule: Wednesdays at 3pm and 8pm; Thursdays at 7pm; Fridays at 8pm; Saturdays at 3pm and 8pm; and Sundays at 3pm. Exceptions: There will be no performance on Thursday, July 4. A performance will be added on Tuesday, July 2 at 7pm.
Running time: 1 hour; 15 minutes with intermission.
Reviewed by Deirdre Donovan based on press performance of 6/12/19
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