Spectacular Joycean monologue by acclaimed Irish theatre-maker Olwen Fouéré, staged at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe
This article is from 2014.
Whatever one makes of RIVERRUN, Olwen Fouéré’s adaptation of parts of James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake, one must applaud the attempt. Fouéré, one of Ireland’s leading theatre-makers, has brought to the theatre a text that some consider impossible to read, far less perform, and her show, which she created, directs and performs, has been highly acclaimed in Ireland and in London.
She focuses on the voice of the river which flows through the entire novel: Anna Livia Plurabelle, the mother, the Liffey, life. On the black stage, the only marking is a tidemark sketched in fragments of white dust. She takes off her shoes and paddles. Sometime later, she swims. Her performance is extraordinary, both in the power of her voice, and in the way in which she uses her whole body, embodying the different moods of the water.
Looking for a narrative or any other form of verbal logic in the Wake is a hiding to nothing, and this will be frustrating for some. The best thing to do is to trust Fouéré as she revels in the rich waters of Joyce’s wordplay, allusions and sound poetry, where the driving force behind the language is the vigour of the language itself. The best thing to do, in fact, is dive in and go for a swim.
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