BWW Review: Captivating Aedín Moloney Portrays James Joyce's Free Spirit in YES! REFLECTIONS OF MOLLY BLOOM

There's a rather highbrow gag in the long-ago Broadway musical TOVARICH, where a Gatsby-era gentleman asks an elegant lady if she's read James Joyce's new novel, "Ulysses."

"Just the final fifty pages," she replies with a lustful wink in her voice.

BWW Review:  Captivating Aedín Moloney Portrays James Joyce's Free Spirit in YES! REFLECTIONS OF MOLLY BLOOM
Aedín Moloney (Photo: Carol Rosegg)

The reason for that lustful wink is captivatingly dramatized by actor Aedín Moloney in the Irish Rep's production of her co-adaptation (with Colum McCann) of that epic novel's famous finish, YES! REFLECTIONS OF MOLLY BLOOM.

Joyce's modernist take on Homer's "Odyssey," chronicling the events of June 16th, 1904 in the life of Dubliner Leopold Bloom, ends with the "Penelope" episode, named for Homer's hero's famously faithful wife.

It's a stream of conscious monologue, known for its free-spirited sexual content as much as for its limited amount of punctuation, expressing the thoughts and remembrances of the philandering protagonist's spouse, Molly Bloom, who is making up for her unsatisfactory marriage by having a questionably satisfying affair.

"What's the idea making us like that with a big hole in the middle of us? Like a stallion, driving it up into you, because that's all they want out of you," she musses about her lover in one of the passages that put Joyce's book at odds with censors.

Director Kira Simring's intimate staging has the audience on two sides of designer Charlie Cororan's abstract setting of shapes on which to lounge, to pose and to play while thinly veiled in the diaphanous nightgown provided by designer Leon Dobkowski. Her sleeping husband is represented by the hat that hangs by the doorway and music by Paddy Moloney of The Chieftains (the performer/co-adaptor's father), enhances the proceedings.

BWW Review:  Captivating Aedín Moloney Portrays James Joyce's Free Spirit in YES! REFLECTIONS OF MOLLY BLOOM
Aedín Moloney (Photo: Carol Rosegg)

Eschewing a storytelling arc, Bloom darts back and forth among topics such as childhood confessional, her first tastes of romance, thoughts of her grown daughter, Milly, her suspicions of her husband's affairs and his curious ways of displaying passion for her with episodes of fetishism for her bottom and for her underwear.

The play's title comes from Joyce's closing sequence, Molly's remembrances of the day Leopold proposed and of the possibilities she saw back then for herself, and their partnership.

"Yes, that was why I liked him. Because I saw he understood or felt what a woman is."

In her dynamic portrayal, Moloney offers a portrait of woman burning to be seen and celebrated by those around her, as she sees and celebrates herself.



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From This Author Michael Dale

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