Stars and the city ... a cast to do Joyce proud

Chris Wasser

Two young boys take the day off school. There should have been three of them, but not everyone is as brave as our bookworm narrator and his slingshot-carrying partner in crime. It's hardly the most adventurous of days, but at least it's a break. That is, until they encounter the strangest of old men.

He talks to them about literature and sweethearts, before excusing himself to relieve a little ... tension, let's say. Naturally, the boys are freaked.

As is young Eveline when the consequences of her decision finally hit home. She told a handsome chap that she would travel to Buenos Aires with him, but now she's not so sure. And then there's Mr Duffy -- the lonely bank cashier who turned away the only person that ever truly loved him.


A heart-breaking account, that last one. But then, Dubliners -- a beguiling collection of short stories from the mind and pen of James Joyce -- was always something of a tragicomedy. There is death. Laughter. Tears. And there is booze -- plenty of booze.

In the hands of others, the stories (first published in 1914) might have made for a messy or even muddled production. But the folks at the Corn Exchange have taken their time in bringing Joyce's view of Dublin and its beautiful characters to life. The attention to detail shows, whether it's the intriguing make-up (red cheeks and pencilled eyebrows), a glorious stage design and wonderful lighting, or Mark O'Halloran's unique ability to make magic out of a single phrase.


There are intense monologues and comic scenarios that require only the sharpest of timing. But the cast of 10 excels in making it look effortless. Mark Lambert is superb; Jack Hickey shines and Janice Byrne is hilarious as the flirtatious Polly. But the real star of this lengthy production is the aforementioned O'Halloran -- one of the finest actors currently working in Irish theatre. Magnificent. HHHHH

> Runs until tomorrow