When the work of James Joyce came out of copyright at the start of this year, it ended a long era of draconian restriction. In 2004, for instance, the Abbey was pressured to cancel a production of Joyce’s only play, Exiles. More bizarrely, a performance artist who had simply memorised passages from Finnegan’s Wake was told that he had probably “already infringed” on Joyce’s intellectual property. You could understand why theatre companies have leapt at the chance, however hurriedly, to adapt his work, as though suddenly freed from shackles.
Since January, in Dublin alone, we have seen works inspired by Ulysses, Finnegan’s Wake and Dubliners, not all of which have been unmitigated successes. This adaptation of Ulysses, however, has been much longer in the making, written almost 20 years ago by the poet and playwright, Dermot Bolger for Philadelphia’s Rosenbach Museum.
Bolger’s “free adaptation”, A Dublin Bloom, never received a full production, but now, with a patience worthy of his central character, this dream-like recreation of Leopold Bloom’s journey through Dublin has seen the light of day in a production from Glasgow’s Tron Theatre.
Only the name has been changed. Having played Belfast last week, its own odyssey continues to Dublin and Cork where audiences can decide if it’s been worth the wait.
Can't see that? Catch this:toker Samuel Beckett Theatre, Dublin