BWW Review: BLOOMSDAY at Wichita Community Theatre, An Introspective Romantic Journey
Playing for its final weekend, Bloomsday at Wichita Community Theatre examines the trivial but serious nature of both young and refined love and romance. Now, for those unfamiliar with the holiday, Bloomsday is actually a true festival of the life of Irish writer James Joyce, observed annually in Dublin and even in the United States on the sixteenth of June each year. The celebration focuses on Joyce's first date with his soon to be wife and also the main character of his novel Leopold Bloom. In this production, Wichita Community Theatre not only captures the essence of Dublin during the time period but also shines through with the true meaning of the show-we only get one chance at life.
Only four members comprise the cast. All are strong in their performances. There is a young and also a matured Caithleen and then a young and matured Robert, respectively. Julia Miller portrays the more youthful Caithleen and opposite her is Mark Barlow as Robbie. For the wiser, but not necessarily older Caithleen is portrayed by none other than Theresa Dombrowski with her counterpart being Cameron Carlson as Robert. Set in 1904 Dublin, both acts begin the same placing the idea that life can go in full circle, but certainly can have the strangest patterns; almost like a pseudo Groundhog Day, where the actors can practically predict recurring events of the past, present or even new proceedings for the future.
Miller, a fresh face to WCT, has a wonderful presence on stage paired with a terrific accent for her character. You can almost hear a hint of Disney-like flair similar to the voice of Merida in the movie Brave. Right off the gate she captivates the audience with her Irish charm truly making one feel she's a native to that region. And luckily her love interest has a magnificent vocal charisma to match. Barlow, another hidden gem of an actor for Wichita audiences, is committed to his character, choices, and intention. The same can be said for Dombrowski and Carlson. Frankly, all have wonderful voices for the stage which made it appealing to simply just listen to them speak their lines and dialogue and ultimately become wrapped up into the not-so-perfect fairytale plot. And throughout the play, all four seem to have various monologues that are delivered just fine, making you sit on the edge of your seat to witness fine acting. In fact, where I sat in the front row, you felt a part of the action with smart staging by director Jessica Fisher. Another advantage to sitting in the front was the simple fact of witnessing great prop selections by award winning props master, Louise Brinegar. For example, one could examine what appeared to be root beer for a glass of Guinness, grape juice for wine or smell a waft of the soap which was a gift towards the conclusion of the drama, or more importantly feel moved by the open pages of a book with hopefully a flower pressed inside. Finally, I would be remised to not mention costumes were appropriately selected by the cast and one could easily gather each cast mate put their own unique touch to their wardrobe pieces.
After all is said and done, it bears repeating again Bloomsday was a wonderful production. Do yourself a favor and support local theatre. You only get one chance in life, and this production was certainly a grateful reminder of that philosophy.