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  • Theater, Drama
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Gibraltar. Irish Repertory Theatre (see Off Broadway). Adapted by Patrick Fitzgerald from James Joyce. Directed by Terry Kinney. With Fitzgerald, Cara Seymour. Running time: 1hr 55mins. One intermission.

Gibraltar: plot synopsis

Patrick Fitzgerald dares to adapt the unadaptable: His new play tackles James Joyce's Ulysses by focusing on the love story between Leopold and Molly Bloom (played by Fitzgerald and Cara Seymour). Steppenwolf cofounder Terry Kinney directs.

Gibraltar: theater review by Helen Shaw

James Joyce’s Ulysses cries out to be read aloud. Sections that seem like impenetrable jungle can sort themselves into tidy garden plots when the text is spoken; we hear its puns, we understand its diatribes and jokes and breathlessness. This sensation—that the text wants to roll around in your mouth like whiskey—makes it tempting to stage. But what about that gloriously unmanageable size? Patrick Fitzgerald’s cozy two-hour adaptation, Gibraltar, solves that problem by narrowing its focus to only a few scenes. Fitzgerald (mostly) plays Leopold Bloom; Cara Seymour plays Molly Bloom, though she also becomes a narrator, a soap salesman, the exhibitionist Gertie and even, briefly, Leopold. There’s no Stephen Dedalus, no deconstruction of the history of English. It’s only a cut of the beef; we’re not, thank God, made to devour the whole beast.

At its best, Gibraltar feels like leafing through a well-loved book, rereading only the favorite bits. (As you might expect, the most-thumbed sections are the dirty, earthy, sexy ones.) The very tininess of the production, particularly Sarah Bacon’s inventive cubbyhole set, enhances this sensation of a pleasure privately indulged. You feel you could fold up the whole thing—minuscule studio space included—and tuck it into your vest pocket. Fitzgerald and Seymour do lovely work as the Blooms, though Fitzgerald overestimates his own ability to deliver two major harangues. Seymour, however, has no limitations—at least not when she launches into the book’s final Molly section, to which (to paraphrase Joyce) you’ll say yes, you’ll say yes, you’ll say yes.—Theater review by Helen Shaw

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