Fourth Gorgon Theatre explores the Ulysses character in four unique parts, playing in Toronto
The main draw for Molly Bloom — on stage at Majlis Art Garden until June 16 — is the precision and confidence that come from Fourth Gorgon Theatre having developed the show over the last five years. Seeing as we’re dealing with an adaptation of the last chapter of James Joyce’s notoriously dense Ulysses, cohesion is exactly what you’re looking for.
The production features Molly Bloom, wife of Ulysses‘ protagonist, Leopold Bloom, delivering stream-of-consciousness musings on morality, sex, gender roles, neighbourhood news, and the tidal wave of little anxieties that are the stuff of any given day. Director and adaptor Jocelyn Adema’s decision to split Molly’s character into four parts and have the actors collectively play her consciousness in real time is one of genius. She compounds the richness of having four people bring their own lives to playing the same character. She also offers them the challenge of coordinating their behaviour to seem of one mind, which they rise to like it’s second nature.
Costars Annie Tuma, Lena Maripuu, Reanne Spitzer, and Sarah Bridget Doyle construct their performances as four essentially identical versions of a glamorous, feminist, self-loving, self-conscious Molly. Their comfort with the role grants them fluidity on stage, like a quartet of electrical charges bouncing from synapse to synapse.
In the post-show talk back, Tuma mentioned how she notices lines from the play in everyday conversations. The cast echoed her in how the play stays with them to varying degrees. It’s always captivating to watch actors whose lives have begun to imitate their characters after many years together.
Their connection really comes through in how Adema blocks them. It’s almost as if they are framed for a different portrait moment to moment, each informed by its own distinct concept and use of space. Their relentless intensity racing from thought to private thought left me impressed with how any of us manage to keep our reactive sides at bay.
A sense of continuous intentionality runs through Molly Bloom. The play follows the notion that every moment and gesture that can be made memorable, no matter how brief, deserves to be developed until that point. The confession scene, the word association scene with ‘Dedalus’, Molly’s husband’s protege’s last name, and the segment about passing wind come to mind, all of them elaborating on commonplace ideas with graceful choreography and impassioned delivery that make them feel like plays within a play.
My guest, Mindy, and I, had nothing but praise for how Fourth Gorgon leaned into the bawdy nature of the text. She recognized herself in Molly’s necessarily vivacious sense of purpose against a world of female second-class citizenship.
The four players are uncannily sweet and haunting in their portrayal. They refashion part of an inaccessible classic into one hour of poetry where the music of words and moving bodies vie for your attention as much as the meaning they convey.
- Molly Bloom is playing until June 16, 2018 at the Majlis Art Garden (163 Walnut Avenue).
- Shows are nightly at 8:00 pm.
- Tickets range from $15-$25 and can be purchased online here.
Photo provided by the company.