Topless a couple of times and most of the time wearing a white night gown often accessorized by a gauzy beige wrap, Irish actress Aedín Moloney is dazzling in the solo show, Yes! Reflections of Molly Bloom. Ms. Moloney passionately portrays James Joyce’s earthy Ulysses character in this faithful stage adaptation that’s strikingly presented. Moloney and Colum McCann’s artful synthesis of that legendary literary figure’s monumental soliloquy is conjoined with their distillation of events from the revolutionary novel, capturing its essence. This inspired narrative treatment combined with Moloney’s enthralling performance makes for an entrancing 80 minutes.
Employing her charming accent with its expressive vocal cadences and exhibiting her alluring sleek physicality and charismatic presence, Moloney totally embodies Molly Bloom as she forcefully conveys the icon’s humor and wistfulness. She authoritatively enacts a myriad of often sensual personal reflections with colossal flair. Whether gleefully reciting Joyce’s graphic dialogue, laying on her back with her legs spread or squatting over a chamber pot, she is fearless in delivering her searing dramatic and comedic characterization.
I was dying to find out was he circumcised! He was shaking like a jelly all over – they want everything too quick! Take all the pleasure out of it… I liked the way he made love then. He knew the way to take a woman…
It’s the early hours of June 17, 1904 in Dublin. The lusty soon to be 43-year-old opera singer Molly Bloom offers a stream of consciousness confessional in her bedroom. The young writer Stephen Dedalus who is an acquaintance figures in her reverie. We learn of her marriage at the age of 18 to the Jewish Leopold Bloom, about her teenage daughter and the death in childhood of their son. The Blooms are unabashedly unfaithful, and details of their sex lives are colorfully imparted.
Because he must have come three or four times, with that tremendous big red brute of a thing he has; it like Iron, or some kind of a thick crowbar standing all the time… Like a Stallion, driving it up into you, because that’s all they want out of you…
Director Kira Simring exuberantly swirling staging has Moloney strategically placed all over the contained circular three-sided playing area. Each segment of the monologue is delivered from a different area achieving momentum and visual variety. A round bed, a jagged vertical ramp, a bench, a varying lighted shuttered window and a cylindrical table are the landscape for Moloney’s sweeping movements. From a closet that is periodically opened and closed she fondles items of clothing including Leopold Bloom’s trilby hat. By vigorously uniting the verbal with the visual, Ms. Simring achieves high-caliber small-scale theatricality.
A circular ceiling installation is above scenic designer Charlie Corcoran’s configuration of futuristic pieces that all yield a mesmerizing and timeless environment. This achievement is amplified as the objects appear in differing shades of gray and blue depending on the lighting. It all perfectly complements Moloney’s performance.
Michael O’Connor’s dramatic lighting design fluctuates to accompany the various moods and emotions that are expressed. Composer Paddy Moloney’s atmospheric original score with its Celtic tones is an effective opening and closing accompaniment. Subtle effects are realized by M. Florian Staab’s crystalline sound design as well as in Moloney’s music. In addition to that gleaming and flowing night gown and beige wrap, costume designer Leon Dobkowski provides several vibrant colored shawls that conjure up the story’s early 20 century era.
Without being a Joycean scholar or just having slight or even no knowledge of its source material, one can still marvel at Moloney’s lyrical gutsiness and Yes! Reflections of Molly Bloom’s power.
Yes! Reflections of Molly Bloom (through July 7, 2019)
Irish Repertory Theatre
Scott McLucas Studio Stage, 132 West 22ndStreet, in Manhattan
For tickets, call 212-727-2737 or visit http://www.irishrep.org
Running time: 80 minutes without an intermission