The play focuses on Lucia Joyce, daughter of literary master James Joyce, and her struggles with his increasing fame, her desire to dance and her lifelong battle with mental illness. The story of this woman is extremely dramatic and therefore perfect for the stage, but why did I come out of the theatre not feeling completely moved?
The play is about a woman who, I would venture, few people know about, allowing the audience to be educated on this talented artist who lived in the shadow of her father’s success. Cattell-Daniels portrayed Lucia’s isolation and jovial spirits wonderfully, allowing for a complex and conflicted character.
This was furthered by the staging, where a ring of stacked books enclosed Cattell-Daniels, indicating that the inner circle was Lucia’s world and the outer circle was the rest of the world (where the other characters would speak). The circle of books emphasized how her father’s success confined her own. It was a powerful decision by the production team.
A major component of the play and Lucia’s life was her desire to dance, as it was her absolute passion in life. Yet I felt that this vital aspect to her life was downplayed. The character states throughout the play that she needs to be a dancer, yet I wanted to be shown, not told. I wanted long sequences of dance to reveal who this woman was. Dance is another fantastic tool for communication, and while there were short dance elements, it was not enough to really explore Lucia’s burning desire to speak through movement — dance was how she understood herself and the world, and I wanted more.
A one woman show is not an easy feat, and Cattell-Daniels managed to hold the audience’s attention throughout. But the linear timeline never allowed the audience to catch up to the action occurring on stage. If the linearity was broken and it began with her in a mental asylum, working her way through her past, this would have added some tension and needed suspense to the piece.
While I ultimately felt underwhelmed at the end of the play, Cattell-Daniels exposed me to the life of a woman who left an important mark in history, and for that I sincerely thank her.
- That Joyce Girl is showing at the Factory Theatre Mainspace. (125 Bathurst St.)
- Tickets are $12 at the door and in advance, and can be bought online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Honest Ed’s Alley, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never permitted.
- This venue is wheelchair accessible.
- The performances are not accessible for non-English speakers.
- Warning: Mature Language and Sexual Content
- June 29th at 8:15 PM
- July 1st at 11:00 PM
- July 3rd at 3:00 PM
- July 5th at 3:00 PM
- July 8th at 9:45 PM
- July 9th at 12:30 PM
- July 10th at 5:45 PM
Photo provided by Postcard Theatre.