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BWW Review: BLOOMSDAY Reminisces with Audiences in Austin, TX

Currently playing at The Austin Playhouse, BLOOMSDAY is story of love oddly intertwined with the James Joyce's novel, Ulysses. Written by the University of Texas Faculty member Steven Dietz, the play's experimental style and arc is reminiscent of Tony Kushner's fabulously entertaining Angels in America. Taking place over the course of 35 years, Robert and Caithleen meet as fleeting youngsters looking for purpose. The purpose of their meeting is that of the title, BLOOMSDAY. For audience members ignorant to the reference, BLOOMSDAY takes place on June 16th as a day of celebration for acclaimed Irish author, James Joyce. It is observed annually in Dublin, where fans and drunkards alike, traditionally dressed in early 1900s garb, march through Dublin following the events and more specifically the scenes of the famous book, Ulysses. The play BLOOMSDAY however, tells the story of young Robbie (played by AaRon Johnson) and Caithleen (played by Claire Grasso) meeting on a tour during the march of Bloomsday. With time itself being the 5th character of the show, Robert (played by Huck Huckaby) scolds his younger self, while Cait (played by Cindy Williams) wrestles with her slipping mind and preparing her younger self for what is to come. The subtle quips and honest reflections from the future selves make for hilarious interactions on stage. Taking place over 35 years, but set within actual two scenes, the arc of the characters and exquisite writing by Steven Dietz, displays a realistic love story forcing introspection.

Huck Huckaby, playing the older and reflective Robert, absolutely hates Ulysses. One of the greatest single lines in a modern show was presented by him, detailing the real heroine of of Ulysses is the reader. His distain for the text is revealed later, for his life's work is reflective and more-so obsessed with the day he spent with young Caithleen (Grasso). The twisted interactions position beautiful scenes celebrating the heartache of daring love and the burning question of 'what if?'.

Young Robert, 'Robbie' (played by AaRon Johnson) happens to stumble into Dublin from Americas west coast, and into a BLOOMSDAY tour given by Caithleen. Johnson and Grasso have honest and wholesome scenes of affection and awkward happenstance. Their dining scene showcases the subtle writing of Dietz and the fun of navigating adolescent love on stage - mindfully performed with elegance from Grasso and Johnson. With the standard expectation of time not dictating the direction and arc of this show, scenes appear out of subsequent order. Huckaby and Williams deliver their soliloquies beautifully, showcasing their driving vocal talent. Their short monologues of reflection within the show are delivered with the story telling capabilities of seasoned Shakespearean performers. The audience gains the ability to see their words, and relate to their analogies.

The shows length, and the energy along with the delivery of the actors, manipulates time similarly to their playwright Steven Dietz. It seems to stand still. The running time of the show is surprising. Through the clever writing and cadence of the performers, two hours seems to fly by in a matter of minutes. These elements helps to transcend the audience into this stylistic and emotionally wavering performance. Now playing at The Austin Playhouse, BLOOMSDAY delivers charm and wit that makes you laugh out loud. Forcing reflection on one's life-altering decisions and unrequited adolescent love.

Austin Playhouse

Bloomsday by Steven Dietz

January 13 - February 5, 2017

Thursdays - Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m.

Austin Playhouse at ACC's Highland Campus

6001 Airport Blvd., Austin, TX 78752


TICKETS: $32 Thursday/Friday, $34 Saturday/Sunday, $36 Opening Night and final Friday, Saturday and Sunday

BOX OFFICE: Call 512.476.0084 or email

DISCOUNTS: All student tickets are half-price. $3 discount for Seniors 65 and up. Group rates available.


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